Navy personnel from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay took part in June in a simulated Naval Control of Maritime Traffic (CNTM, per its Portuguese acronym) exercise, called COAMAS. The navies operate in the so-called South Atlantic Maritime Area (AMAS, per its Portuguese acronym), and they have been conducting the annual COAMAS exercise since the 1970s. The exercise is coordinated by the South Atlantic Maritime Area Coordinator (CAMAS, per its Portuguese acronym), a position occupied by Argentine Navy Rear Admiral Osvaldo Andrés Vernazza. Its purpose is to contribute to the training of members of the Organization for the Naval Control of Maritime Traffic (ORGACONTRAM, per its Portuguese acronym), Civilian Maritime Transportation Management, Civilian Fisheries Management, and participating countries.
The 2017 edition involved 157 Brazilian service members who operated remotely from several locations around the country. “We had representatives from four naval districts, 13 harbormasters, and one harbormaster commissioner based in several Brazilian states as well as military personnel from the Command Center for Naval Control of Maritime Traffic,” said Rear Admiral Flávio Augusto Viana Rocha, the director of the Brazilian Navy’s Social Communications Center.
Approximately 350 military personnel from the four countries participated in the simulated exercise in a simultaneous and concerted manner, according to information published on the official COAMAS website. Rear Adm. Rocha explained that the exercise is essential for increasing interoperability among the organizations in the AMAS countries. “The concepts developed during the exercise are applied to the daily activities of each country’s navy, working in conjunction with other similar international organizations in order to exchange information regarding maritime traffic of interest to AMAS countries,” he stated.
According to Brazilian Navy Captain Paulo Renato Rohwer Santos, the commander of CNTM, the exercise employs a system that compiles a general overview of the operational area, providing support for decision-making processes, where both real and fictitious maritime traffic is represented graphically, in order to create the starting scenario for the exercise. “This enables the establishment of actions to be taken against fictitious threats generated by the arbiters of the exercise. At this point, CNTM is activated with the task of applying CNTM doctrine,” explained Capt. Rohwer.
During the two weeks of activities, several scenarios involving environmental pollution (hydrocarbons, radioactive material), infectious diseases, terrorism, illegal immigration, and piracy, among others, were created. “Procedures for locating, identifying and classifying threats are trained during the activities, and this training will serve as a basis for the naval force initiatives, as well as guidelines for maritime traffic through the use of CNTM measures,” said the officer.
“For example, one of the scenarios created during the exercise was a survey for the CNTM, of merchant marine traffic carrying radioactive waste in Brazil’s Offshore Jurisdiction. During the simulation, the ship was located, identified, and classified according to the threat level compatible with its cargo. When it asked to dock in a Brazilian port, it was ordered to anchor in a secure area, so that a rigorous inspection of its cargo could be undertaken by the relevant authorities,” said Capt. Rohwer.
According to Rear Adm. Rocha, the training of ORGACONTRAM in all the countries that comprise AMAS, through the implementation of CNTM doctrine, is essential in order to face new threats. The annual exercise enables integration between the navies of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
This was the 47th edition of the CNTM simulated exercise, which is conducted biannually, alternating between the countries that comprise AMAS, said Rear Adm. Rocha. “In the 2016/2017 period, the activity was conducted by the CAMAS in Buenos Aires. For the 2018/2019 and 2020/2021 periods, it will be conducted from Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively,” he said.
South Maritime Area
The AMAS organization started gaining prominence in the 1960s, after an approximation between the navies of the United States and Latin America during the Second World War, as a result of the integration of naval surveillance in the Americas. In August 1964, the Inter-American Committee for the Defense of Maritime Traffic was created. At the time, the Regional South Atlantic Subcommittee was formed.
From this approximation, the Meeting of Navy Commanders of the South Atlantic Maritime Area was created and a coordinator, called CAMAS, was defined for this area in times of peace. The first meeting of the commanders of the AMAS navies was held in 1966 when the CAMAS structure was created. The missions and activities to be undertaken were established, with the aim of improving the security of maritime traffic in the region. On August 18, 1967, the first coordinator of AMAS was established in Buenos Aires.
Maritime traffic exercises
According to information provided by the Brazilian Navy, in addition to COAMAS, another two exercises are held for the improvement of maritime traffic. One of these is the Transamerica, an activity that involves the navies of the Inter-American system: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The exercise is held every two years. In the Transamerica exercise, CAMAS assumes the duties of the Official Regional Conductor of the Exercise (ROCE). The exercise will take place August 28th to September 8th. The other exercise is the Transoceanic, an annual exercise whose ROCE is CAMAS. This edition will involve the navies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Mexico.