Maritime Interdiction Operations

The bulk of the chapter so far has concentrated on high-end warfighting applications of operational oceanography, such as prosecuting submarines, clearing mine fields and conducting amphibious assaults. Oceanographic products are also used, however, to provide routine support to lower tempo operations. Examples include maritime interdiction, patrol tasks and constabulary activities, which may be constrained by high sea states or heavy swells.

A current example is the use of real-time satellite observations, and forecasts, of significant wave height to identify the risk of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. The correlation between pirate attacks and satellite observations of significant wave height has been established using historical data. A 'stoplight' diagram, based on these correlations and using forecast wave heights, is routinely provided to naval forces in the international Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150), operating off the Somali coast. This force includes an Australian frigate. The stoplight product shows the risk of pirate attack in three categories: 'probable', 'possible' and 'unlikely' (Fig. 24.5).

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