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Ode to Canada’s Maritime Security Operation Centres

Dr. Andrea Charron, 10 February 2020.

In 2004, the government, through its National Security Policy, established three Maritime Security Operation Centres (MSOCs); two under the administrative coordination of National Defence and co-located respectively on the West Coast with Regional Joint Operation Centre Pacific (RJOC (P)) and on the East Coast with RJOC(A).The third, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway MSOC, is located on the Great Lakes at Niagara, and is under the administrative coordination of the RCMP as a function of its focus on transnational crime in the Great Lakes.

The MSOCs, despite the name, are neither ‘operation’ centres nor ‘security’ centres. MSOCs are more rightly called maritime intelligence analytical fusion centres. The impetus for their creation was to facilitate the sharing of intelligence among the six federal government agencies concerned with marine-based threats that could negatively affect safety or security. The Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Transport Canada (TC), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), RCMP, the Conservation and Protection (C&P) arm of Fisheries and Oceans Canada are represented at the MSOCs. MSOC E and MSOC W have footprints on the RJOC(A) and RJOC (P) watch floors where there are five desks: one each for the CAF, CCG, TC, CBSA, and RCMP. (The RCMP and CBSA share a desk if there was a requirement for all MSOC partners to surge onto the watch floor). […]

All MSOCs contribute to the creation of the Canadian Common Operating Picture (COP) of maritime activity. At MSOC E, there is a daily situation update to share intelligence from the various agencies that is focused on a fulsome maritime picture in Canada’s area of operations and includes vessels that are deemed to be of interest to one or more partners, but also include information related to surveillance flights, radar satellite passes and from weather and ice updates to potential protests etc. MSOC E was the driving force behind the creation of a weekly Arctic maritime domain awareness teleconference hosted by DND via MSOC E during the Arctic shipping season. Plans are afoot to replace the teleconference by another avenue through which to communicate important Arctic information with national and international stakeholders in the future.

Each of the primary maritime security actors contribute to the construction of Canada’s Common Operating Picture which also makes its way to NORAD to aid its maritime warning mission.

MSOCs are critical to maritime domain awareness for the government of Canada.

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