The US Navy, alongside naval forces from Europe, South America and Africa, is participating in the multinational maritime exercise Obangame Express 2014.
The exercise, which started on 16 April, has been designed to enhance tactical expertise and cooperation among west and Central African nations while strengthening their joint ability to deter illicit activity and maritime threats in the Gulf of Guinea.
The week-long exercise, scheduled to take place in two areas near the coasts of Nigeria and Cameroon, will include an in-port preparatory phase followed by a sea phase where 31 ships test their maritime security skills.
Obangame Express exercise director US Navy captain Nancy Lacore said that each nation participating in the drill plays a critical role in regional maritime security.
"It is through exercises such as Obangame that nations can work together to lay the foundation for the regional cooperation that will ensure the safety and security of military, commercial and civilian operations at sea," Lacore said.
Those taking part will demonstrate a wide variety of skills such as visit, board, search and seizure, medical response, radio communication, and information sharing across regional maritime operation centres.
The Nigerian Navy’s plans and policy chief rear admiral Aoa Ikioda said: "In light of recent challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, our collaboration between the countries of the Gulf and our international partners [the] US Africa Command and US Naval Forces Africa has resulted in this event, [which is] meant to develop individual capacities and secure the maritime area."
Participants will also conduct tactics and techniques in scenarios that simulate real-world counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations.
The exercise involves navies from Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey and the US.