Piracy is a global problem which has grown greatly over the past twenty years. Hijacking of ships and the taking of hostages, in both cases for ransom, is the main characteristic of piracy in the Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa, which is also where the number of attacks have increased mostly during recent years. Hijacked ships and crews taken as hostages are typically released against the payment of ransoms ranging between €500k and €5m per ship. More than 30 ships have been captured in the Indian Ocean/Horn of Africa region in each of the past two years and the annual cost to insurance companies exceeds €100m.
In combating the threat of piracy many countries from all over the world have joined efforts in various initiatives, for example:
The creation of regional agreements for countries to cooperate
Enhancing the Maritime Situational Awareness
Adhering to Best Management Practices
Deployment of naval forces to protect merchant ships
Although the international community acts together to fight piracy, current measures are not enough. In particular there is a need for improved situational awareness.
The key questions for the feasibility study are to identify for which user groups space based situational awareness services making use of multiple space assets have the greatest potential to efficiently reduce the threat or impact of piracy, what services are required, and how these can be implemented using currently available technologies and existing infrastructures.
The user communities for these services may include ship owners, ship brokers, maritime insurance companies, coast guards, regional anti-piracy centres, antipiracy coalitions, international organisations, and civil authorities.
Since the scale of the problem has already led to many activities having taken place in related areas, duplication of work needs to be avoided. In effect this means that results from previous activities should be built upon when relevant and any new service should be complementary to or significantly enhance existing ones. Since many services proposed or developed so far make use of a single space asset only (like earth observation or telecommunication), added value from this feasibility study is expected to come from combining multiple space assets.
The study content will include the following tasks: stakeholder / user consolidation, refinement of user requirements, state of the art analysis, service definition, system definition, proof of concept, viability analysis, and implementation roadmap.
Information on the call for proposals has been published on ESA’s Electronic Mail Invitation to Tendering System, EMITS (http://emits.esa.int), under the reference AO 7168 (under “Open Invitations to Tender”). The applicable tender solicitation package can be downloaded by registered users under this 'Announcement of Opportunity' (AO). This specific call is open for applications until 27th August 2012. 'Entity Registration' is possible on the same website.