By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Jason Morris, Africa Partnership Station Public Affairs
The Sao Tome and Principe (STP) Coast Guard has installed and have received training to use the latest surface surveillance program, the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) here, Jan. 28.
RMAC, a U.S. Navy inspired coastal surveillance program, utilizes Automatic Identification System and ground-based radars and sensors to provide the user situational awareness in their maritime domain. This maritime domain awareness is an essential aspect of maritime safety and security in their region.
STP is the first African country to have RMAC installed and integrated into the Maritime Safety and Security Information System, a global database used to track ships all across the world.
That statistic has changed recently with the establishment of the STP Coast Guard and the integration of RMAC. This process began when STP Coast Guard donated
several radar bouncer units to local villages and fishermen throughout the island. These radar bouncers are placed on the mast of small fishing vessels, allowing the small crafts to be detected by the larger ocean vessels' radar scans. This should reduce the likelihood of collisions at sea.
The STP Coast Guard has four permanently assigned personnel for the RMAC program and all have been trained by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)
technicians on installation, maintenance and trouble shooting scenarios.
"While STP does not have a great deal of commercial traffic in the area, RMAC will greatly enhance STP's capability to increase support services for what traffic they do have, and in addition, RMAC will increase tracking capabilities of all ships within STP's maritime domain," said Brian Dickerson of Computer Science Corporation. "RMAC will also allow the STP Coast Guard to detect illegal fishing in their territorial waters."
Every year, precious resources are lost when nations cannot exert even minimal control of their Exclusive Economic Zones, territorial waters, and ports. A huge opportunity cost is being paid each day by Africans, in terms of both unrealized national revenue and untapped human potential.
RMAC is one way STP can enforce maritime governance and prevent illegal activities from occurring in their maritime domain.
STP is the first African country to utilize RMAC, and has set the stage for others nations to follow. RMAC's installation is planned for Angola, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria.
APS is one in a series of activities designed to build maritime safety and security in Africa in a comprehensive and collaborative manner, focusing first on the Gulf of Guinea.
It responds to specific African requests for assistance, is aligned with broad international community and U.S. objectives, and is reflective of the mission of the U.S. Africa Command. It seeks to take partnerships into action in a concerted interagency and multinational effort to promote maritime governance around Africa.
APS is inspired by the belief that effective maritime safety and security will contribute to development, economic prosperity and security ashore.