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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Maritime Professionals from Africa and Asia Improve Maritime Domain Awareness Skills

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Volpe recently hosted its third annual training workshop aimed at enhancing and sustaining maritime domain awareness (MDA) around the world.

Safety and security on the world’s waterways and oceans depend on nations that are committed to improving MDA. By enhancing their MDA, countries can reduce smuggling, fishery violations, drug and human trafficking, terrorism, environmental degradation, and more. Safe maritime operations leads to opportunities for economic growth, which in turn supports political stability.

During the five-week course, international participants acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to aid countries around the world in combating illicit maritime activity. Through classroom-style and hands-on learning, the workshop focused on the use and operation of maritime information systems, as well as the installation and maintenance of vessel tracking systems.

Volpe MDA subject matter experts developed and delivered the workshop on behalf of the Department of Defense-U.S. Africa Command and the U.S. Navy International Programs Office.

A Year for Firsts

Nineteen participants from seven countries attended the workshop from July through August—up from nine participants at the first MDA training workshop in 2014. Participants from Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Mozambique, and Togo joined Volpe’s MDA experts this year. Volpe staff were excited to expand the list of participating countries by welcoming 10 Philippine officials for the first time. The Philippines also enrolled the workshop’s first-ever female officer: Captain Airos Marianne Soria, who flies maritime patrol aircraft for the Philippine Air Force.

In another first, part of this year’s workshop was held offsite at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, for a seminar on radar theory and operation. Participants also met and discussed the importance of MDA with Michael J. Rodriguez, deputy maritime administrator for the United States Maritime Administration.

Image of participants in Volpe’s 3rd annual maritime domain awareness at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
Participants in Volpe’s 3rd annual maritime domain awareness workshop visited the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. (Volpe photo)

Departing as MDA Advocates

The workshop curriculum provided participants with expertise in using MDA systems, including the Maritime Safety and Security Information System, SeaVision vessel tracking software, and the Automatic Identification System. Many of these technologies have been developed and maintained at Volpe for more than a decade. 

This comprehensive workshop also covered computer networking, project management training, and radar theory and operation.

“We arrived here as eighteen brothers and one sister,” said participant Peter Adjei, assistant superintendent of the Ghana Police Service-Marine Division, on the final day of the workshop. “Now we will go back to our home countries as advocates for maintaining maritime domain awareness and ambassadors of Volpe’s SeaVision.”

Image of maritime and military personnel in a meeting room
Volpe hosted a 5-week workshop and taught international participants how to use and operate maritime information systems, and install and maintain vessel tracking systems, to combat illicit maritime activity. (Volpe photo)