The Royal Dutch Navy has, for the first time, joined the European-led Africa Partnership Station (APS), an initiative to help build maritime safety in Africa.

APS is a strategic program designed to build the skills and expertise of African militaries, coast guards and mariners in a bid to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

The Dutch Navy have contributed their multifunctional amphibious transport ship HNLMS Johan De Witt, which will be used to offer training to build long-term co-action and collaboration.

HNLMS Johan De Witt (L 801), which will be initially berthed in Senegal, is the first non US ship to execute the security cooperation programme.

The deployment was led by the Dutch with the support of Belgium, Portugal, and the US along with the involvement of many African partners.

During its voyage the ship is scheduled to visit Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Cape Verde over the next two months to conduct professional exchanges including maritime law enforcement, medical readiness and navigation.

The vessel also carries a large quantity of relief goods for the African coastal countries to include survey boats, a fire truck and an ambulance, hospital beds and school books.

the APS exercise began in 2006 and the first official APS mission was deployed in November 2007 for six months on-board USS Fort Mchenry.