The US Navy has started the fourth annual multinational exercise Saharan Express 2014 off West Africa, along with naval forces from African and European maritime partners.
Designed to improve cooperation, tactical expertise and information sharing practices between the participating nations, the at-sea maritime exercise will enhance maritime safety and security in the region.
Saharan Express 2014 exercise director captain John Tokarewich said: "Over the course of the next two weeks, we will work on interoperability, communications, coordination and familiarisation.
"More than that, though, we will work to come together more closely as a team linked by the common purpose of ensuring regional maritime security."
Scheduled to be conducted in two areas near the coasts of Cabo Verde and Senegal, the week-long exercise will include an in-port preparatory phase followed by 11 participating ships to demonstrate maritime security skills.
During the exercise, the participating nations will test a wide variety of skill sets including visit, board, search and seizure, medical response, radio communication and information sharing across regional maritime operations centers (MOCs).
Senegalese chief of navy staff rear admiral Cheikh Bara Cissokho said: "Over the course of these seven days of intense activities, I am convinced that we will achieve the assigned objectives of reinforcing our command and control systems, perfecting the techniques of our boarding teams and practicing interoperability of capacities and common procedures.
"Together, we will build brotherhood, friendship and the essential confidence to counter the challenges that we collectively face."
Additionally, participants will conduct tactics and techniques within scenarios that simulate counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations, as well as actions taken to deter illegal fishing.
Participating nations include Morocco, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Senegal, Liberia, France, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.