Posted by Precious Igbonwelundu | 13 March 2019 | 780 times
To sustain the gains recorded in fighting maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), the Nigerian Navy (NN), her counterparts from 20 African and 11 allied countries have concluded plans for a five-day sea exercise codenamed OBANGAME Express.
The exercise which has been on since 2010, was initiated by the United States of America (US) Africa Command as part of measures to foster togetherness among African navies.
This year’s sea exercise will run from March 15 to 20 in the GoG and will witness the deployment of 11 warships and two helicopters, said the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak.
Briefing reporters on the preparation for the exercise at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island yesterday, Ngalabak said that eight of the ships would be deployed by the NN while US, Portugal and Morrocco will each bring one.
He said: “This year’s exercise is being hosted by the Nigerian Navy. eight Nigerian Navy Ships including two offshore patrol vessels; NNS Centenary and NNS Unity, two helicopters, one ship each from US, Portugal and Morocco would be participating in Lagos area.
“The exercise is aimed at assessing and improving GoG law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security, improve knowledge of African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) planning and operations, and shape security force’ assistance efforts.
“The overall objectives are to excercise each of the participating countries’ capabilities in Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Interdiction Operations.
“Obangame Express is an annual multi-phased exercise sponsored by the US Naval Force Africa (US NAVAF). The first Obangame Express was held in 2010 to promote the importance of regional cooperation between all the navies in the GoG.
“It is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information sharing and enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter illegalities in the maritime domain.
“Also to demonstrate and evaluate operational capability to respond to maritime events, prevent and counter maritime threats; demonstrate power projection and the ability to effectively operate as a multinational force under a regional control authority; demonstrate and evaluate maritime operations Centre operability with tactical units and evaluate and acess Africa Partnership Station (APS) training effects.”
According to Ngalabak, OBANGAME Express 2019 commenced on Monday, March 10 with the in-port training of Special Forces personnel from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon and Benin.
A statement earlier released by Director Naval Information (DINFO) Commodore Suleiman Dahun said the opening ceremony of the exercise would be on Thursday March 14 before the participating navy ships will cast off.
“Obangame Express is an annual multinational exercise supported by African, European and US partners. It was designed to improve cooperation and tactical expertise among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security for Gulf of Guinea nations.
“The Nigerian Navy will be hosting this year‘s exercise and has committed some of its capital ships and helicopters towards the exercise.”
•Sourced from The Nation report
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