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Joint U.S., Nigerian Exercise Maritime Safari 2008 Concludes

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080304-23
Release Date: 3/4/2008 3:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Jason T. Poplin, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Sigonella

LAGOS, Nigeria (NNS) -- Personnel from Commander Task Force 67, Patrol Squadron Detachment Sigonella (PATRON SIGONELLA), and Fleet Maritime Patrol Mobile Operations Command Center Mediterranean concluded a seven-day deployment to Ikeja Air Force Base Feb. 28.

The Nigerian Air Force and Navy, under the auspices of the defense headquarters, hosted the U.S. Navy in joint Exercise Maritime Safari 2008.

Exercise Maritime Safari is part of the growing ongoing military-to-military cooperation between the United States and Nigeria. The highlight of the exercise was the location of a simulated lost at sea exercise through coordination between a Nigerian Air Force Dornier 228, a U.S. Navy P-3 C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, and the Nigerian Navy Ship Nwamba.

"By participating in this exercise, we establish the strengthening of partnerships and relationships," said Capt. John Nowell, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 60 and commander of Task Force West and Central Africa.

Collaboration between the two nation's militaries also focused on aircraft maintenance procedures, mission planning, and idea exchanges about maritime concepts. Focus was given to improving maritime safety and security by building upon the capabilities of maritime personnel, maritime domain awareness, infrastructure, and response and enforcement fields.

"The Americans are very friendly and the Nigerians have interacted with them very well socially," said Capt. Tayo Ojeyemi, a Nigerian Air Force Group officer who piloted the Dornier 228 during the search and rescue exercise. "On the professional side, we are learning a lot from each other and I hope we will continue to have future engagements."

Officers from both militaries worked together during pre-flight and post-flight briefings. Enlisted airframers of the Nigerian Air Force embraced an opportunity to interact with their American counterparts. Together, they visited several sections of the P-3 and made comparisons between various components of the aircraft and the C-130 J Hercules utilized by the Nigerians.

Exercise Maritime Safari included a VIP flight that offered several senior Nigerian military officials the chance to tour PATRON SIGONELLA's P-3 in the air.

"As a whole, the support of the Nigerian military has been simply phenomenal," said Nowell. "Everything from the security that they have provided, which has been very robust, to their support and events like the socials they have hosted which have helped get their maritime professionals and aviation professionals together with ours to build those bonds of friendship and rapport."

During the visit, U.S. Navy personnel participated in a cultural relations day hosted by Nigerian local leadership where Sailors saw the creation of arts and crafts at a local arts and cultural museum. Sailors interacted with artists as they were creating fabrics and mosaics in addition to observing local dancers perform an array of local traditional dances. Sailors also visited the Lagos State Model Nursery and Primary School to distribute toys, diapers, and school supplies which were donated by the Naval Air Station Sigonella and PATRON SIGONELLA communities.

"These items are very tangible representations that we care and that it's not just about what we're doing in uniform, but also about what we want to do to help with what is every nation's most precious resource, their children," Nowell said.

Exercise Maritime Safari 2008 is part of Naval Forces Europe's Africa Partnership Station initiative, which seeks to improve maritime safety and security while building relationships and partnerships with the countries of West and Central Africa.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -Commander, 6th Fleet or Africa Partnership Station, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/naveur/>



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