MARSEC COE is both a center for academic research as well as a (multinational) hub for practical training in the field of maritime security, along with relevant domains (Maritime Trade, Energy Security, Maritime Environment, Maritime Resources, Public Health, Maritime Transport-Logistic). MARSEC COE strives to achieve the necessary collaboration amongst stakeholders from government, industry, academia and private sector.
Why do we need a MARSEC COE?
Maritime Security has different dimensions, including but not limited to Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA), Law enforcement, maritime safety, maritime environment, maritime science & technology, maritime trade & economy, maritime law and public health. Therefore, in national terms, Maritime Security can only be achieved by a "whole of government" approach. If we succeed in applying this approach together with like-minded countries in a multi-national environment, we can attain our common Maritime Security objectives.
On the other hand, if the Maritime Security is downgraded only to a Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) with a defense-minded mentality, we will fall short in our goals, covering only % 10 of Maritime Security.
One of the most important lessons Turkey has learned through the recently conducted Maritime Security Operation- MSO is the significant role “Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA)” plays in countering maritime risks and threats.
Another equally important lesson is the fact that, MSA can only be achieved effectively through working together with other regional maritime security organizations and civilian agencies, employing all the other instruments of national power and thus enabling a “whole of government" approach”.
The idea of “Maritime Security Center of Excellence” stemmed from the need for coordination and deconfliction among governmental and interagency organizations as well as defense and law enforcement entities towards a more secure maritime environment.
Allied Maritime Strategy (AMS) sets out, in full consistency with the Strategic Concept, the ways that maritime power could help resolve critical challenges facing the Alliance now and in the future, and the roles-enduring and new-that NATO forces may have to carry out in the maritime environment in order to contribute to the Alliance's defence and security and to promote its values. These roles capitalise upon the ability of maritime forces to provide a spectrum of strategic options to the Alliance, and include appropriate contributions to:
- Deterrence and collective defence,
- Crisis management,
- Cooperative security: Outreach through partnerships, dialogue and cooperation,
- Maritime Security.
NATO launched the Smart Defence Initiative in 2011 that aims at providing cost-effective solutions for capability development. This was very appropriate and timely taking into account the recent worldwide financial and the shrinking defence budgets.
This Initiative, mainly aims at collective prioritisation of the nations' defence requirements, role specialisation among nations and the multinational projects developments to this end, has been welcomed and fully supported by the nations. Turkey fully supports this initiative and encourages all Allies to foster it in NATO. Maritime security is suitable area for cooperation with partners.
Piracy directly affects the crew of merchant fleets and company owners in a negative way. Today, NATO, CTF-151, EU (ATALANTA) and several countries (such as Japan, India, China, RF, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia) are actively taking part in activities conducted against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. However, a common platform in which solutions could be found and acted upon, is needed in implementing a maritime cross–functional inter-agency approach, healing the wounds of the maritime sector, as well as easing the workload of defense and security forces.
MARSEC COE could be ideal platform for cross-functional inter-agency approach besides Counter Piracy Training in Mediterranean before deployment of maritime forces.
In sum, MARSEC COE approach to Maritime Security is based on Multi-national cross-functional inter-agency co-operation.
Maritime Security requires multinational-interagency cooperation and can only be achieved through working together with national, regional and global maritime security organizations as well as civilian agencies.
There are numerous national, regional and global maritime security related initiatives around the globe. Among these global maritime security stakeholders are UN, NATO, IMO and EU.
Turkey has a big potential in terms of transportation since she is at the crossroads of Europe, Central Asia and Middle East. The geo-strategic position of the country has been rendered with comprehensive and strategic studies and Turkey has acquired an identity as an ‘Energy Corridor’.
The idea of establishing a MARSEC COE stemmed from the coordination requirement among government, private sector, industry and academies in order to get a more secure maritime environment in our region. In accordance with NATO’s smart defence approach, Turkey decided to coordinate and unite the efforts in a centre of excellence acting as a hub for maritime related issues.
With this aim, on 12 November 2012, the Multinational Maritime Security Centre of Excellence (MARSEC COE) was officially inaugurated in Aksaz Naval Base - Marmaris/TURKEY, under the command of Turkish Naval Forces Southern Task Group Command. This institution was established as an outcome from the 'Smart Defense' initiative and aimed at Supporting Allies' security interests by working on 'Maritime Security' in the surrounding seas. Due to its proximity to international airports, universities and maritime industry, The Multinational Maritime Security Centre of Excellence was relocated to Beylerbeyi/ISTANBUL in January 2017 and then in March 2018, the center moved to its present location at the Multinational Joint Warfare Centre building in the National Defence University Campus, Yenilevent/ISTANBUL.
Through the way of becoming a NATO Accredited Center of Excellence (COE); MARSEC COE, as a framework nation, after several coordination visits and meetings and also inputs of NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT), Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence (CJOS COE) and Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW); conducted the First Establishment Conference on 4-7 February 2019 and the Second Establishment Conference on 6-9 May 2019, and have finalized MARSEC COE concept together with Operational and Functional Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)s with consensus of all participants. Greece and Romania declared their intentions as sponsoring nations for NATO MARSEC COE and MoU signing ceremony was held with the participation of Turkey as the framework nation, Romania and Greece as the sponsoring nations and ACT on 18 October 2019.
MARSEC COE 1st Steering Committee (SC) Meeting was conducted on 5-6 February 2020 with the participation of representatives from Turkey, Greece, Romania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Portugal, Qatar, Spain and NATO ACT at MARSEC COE in İstanbul. Later on, MARSEC COE Accreditation Assessment Visit was conducted on 04-05 March 2020 by the NATO ACT CPD representatives at MARSEC COE in İstanbul. As of 8 June 2020, Multi-National Maritime Security Centre of Excellence achieved the status of "International Military Organization" as the 26th centre of excellence accredited to NATO.
 Smart Defence is a cooperative way of generating modern defence capabilities that the Alliance needs, in a more cost-efficient effective and coherent manner.
MARSEC COE is to become an internationally recognized focal point as well as comprehensive expertise and knowledge provider in the area of maritime security, thus expanding capabilities of NATO and Partner Nations.
The mission of the MARSEC COE is to expand the capabilities of NATO and Partner Nations by providing comprehensive innovative and timely expertise in the field of Maritime Security Operations.