29 October 2017

Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIOs) in Med'sea, a joint exercise?

The heard communications concern a Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) in Mediterranean sea and involve 2 vessels and one ashore station which acts as the net-control station by coordinating all the activities. It is not clear if  the heard activity is part of a routine patrol or rather a naval joint exercise. The ALE IDs used in communications (ie "CMOC", that could stands for Combined Maritime Operation Center), some terms in the messages (such as PUBEX, EVOLEX) and the "special" email domain name (here not reported for confidentiality) make me think to a MIO joint exercise. By the way, I did not find any related news in some specialized websites neither in press-agency sites.
The activity was heard on 7 and 8 MHz bands, expecially on 27 October. Communications  make use of 188-141 2G ALE for link setup while the messages are sent using a battle force email system based on STANAG-5066 HBFTP protocol. STANAG-4539/MS-110A are used as bearer HF waveforms, mostly QAM-64 9600bps and PSK-8 1200bps modulations (Figs 1,2). The STANAG-5066 addresses of the network nodes belong to the dummy block 10.000.000.zzz  which is not assigned to a country.
The language used for working out operational documents and for communications is English and French, this could be another hint in favour of a joint exercise.

Fig. 1 - STANAG-4539 transfer using QAM-64
Fig. 2 - STANAG-5066 stream
In addition to text or routine messages such as request to compress photos ("compresser la photo svp"), link informations ("liaison XXX to YYY par HF est nulle") or some ehortations ("veilles respecter le battle rythme et nous transmettre la situation RMP TN/DZ et vos position 12h00"), I saw some operational messages that are worth seeing. Although it could be a joint exercise, I avoid to go into details and some parts of these messages, as well as callsigns, are obscured or omitted for reasons of confidentiality of sensitive information. 

The firts two messages are related to the operation (tactical instructions?) and to the use of the MIO Board.

Fig. 3
Fig. 4
In Fig.5,  looks like they send informal ACP-like messages using email: note the from CMOC (Combined Maritime Operations Center?) to OTC (Operational Training Center?) header

Fig. 5
The operation was successull since the report on the interception of a boat of narcotrafficants (Fig. 6). Drug smugglers have thrown the material off at sea but it has been recovered by the navy sailors. Note how such reports are rigidly formatted in sections (termed "alfa", "bravo", "charlie") and sub-sections.

Fig. 6
Note also that in some messages, likely the more important ones, they make use of return receipts, as indicated by the MDN (Message Disposition Notification) tags in the email shown in Fig. 7 (turnaround time of 31 secs.). I saw MDNs in both English and French language.

Fig. 7
Many joint exercises (Phoenix Express, Morjane, Osis, MEDEX,...) take place every year in Souther Med'sea, so what I heard could be an ad-hoc scenario just established for this exercise.

update: 31 October 2017

...as expected:

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