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Netherlands Begins First European-led APS Deployment in Senegal

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS091016-12
Release Date: 10/16/2009 5:47:00 AM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Jason Morris, Africa Partnership Station Johan De Witt Public Affairs

ST. LOUIS, Senegal (NNS) -- The first European-led Africa Partnership Station (APS) engagement began in Senegal Oct. 7 when the Royal Dutch Navy multifunctional amphibious transport ship HNLMS Johan De Witt (L 801) pulled into port.

While APS started only two years ago and has since had the involvement of over 20 African nations, nine European and one South American country, and multiple non-governmental organizations (NGO), this is the first time that APS has been executed from a non-U.S. ship. This particular deployment is led by the Dutch with the support of Belgium, Portugal and the United States in addition to the many African partners involved.

"The global interdependence makes maritime safety and security rather a worldwide issue, not a regional issue. The United States and the European nations have been asked by our African partners to play a role in developing maritime safety and security in the West African region," said Dutch Navy Capt. Ben Bekkering, commanding officer Johan De Witt. "APS is the instrument through which the international community offers assistance in order to achieve common goals through partnership and collaboration with international, interagency and NGO organizations."

Johan De Witt brings with her a team of maritime experts brought in to provide training and engage in exercises with the African partners. Small boat operations, maritime survey, construction, maritime interdiction, boarding, and medical treatment are just a few of the capabilities on board.

"The Dutch leadership in this initiative highlights the global interest in improving maritime safety and security," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Byron Smith, APS training officer for Johan De Witt. "It's becoming increasingly apparent to our partners that improved maritime governance affects stability and prosperity ashore."

The Johan De Witt is scheduled to visit Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Cape Verde over the next month and half. During these visits, the ship will embark African students to conduct professional exchanges in many areas including seamanship, maritime law enforcement, medical readiness and navigation. The vessel also carries, at the request of several NGOs, a large quantity of relief goods for the African coastal countries to include survey boats, a fire truck and an ambulance, hospital beds, school books and gifts donated by children in Dutch schools.

Johan De Witt, a landing platform dock amphibious ship homeported in Den Helder, Netherlands, is on a regularly scheduled deployment. This endeavor is conducted in cooperation with Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and will be executed by embarked command and multinational support elements.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit

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