The multinational exercise, Obangame Express 2015, is being conducted by the maritime forces from Gulf of Guinea nations, Europe, South America, the US and various regional and international organisations.
Sponsored by US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the nine-day Obangame Express exercise is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.
Obangame Express 15 tactical command officer captain John Rinko said: "Every nation represented in the exercise plays a critical role in not only their own nation’s maritime security, but the security of the entire region.
"Each year of Obangame Express, we build on the successes of the previous year to mature the coordination between nations, develop a higher level of cooperation and improve the capability and capacity of our maritime forces.
"During this exercise, we will not only work to enhance tactical and operational maritime security capabilities, but to improve international and interagency coordination for responding to threats to maritime security."
Conducted as part of four US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 6th Fleet (NAVEUR-NAVAF/C6F) facilitated regional exercises, Obangame Express will provide an opportunity to train on skill sets that include boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques.
Leveraging the Code of Conduct for West and Central Africa, the exercise will include a two phase underway portion comprising of a regional framework and an emphasis on national patrols.
The USNS Spearhead joint high-speed vessel (JHSV 1) is scheduled to participate in Obangame Express.
Participating nations in Obangame Express 2015 include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the UK and the US, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
Image: Ghana deputy minister of defence Dr Alex Segbefia speaking during the opening ceremony for Obangame Express 2015. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by mass communication specialist 3rd class Luis R Chavez Jr/Released.