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APS Gunston Hall Wraps Up 20 Days of Training in Senegal

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100427-17

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Martin Cuaron, USS Gunston Hall Public Affairs

DAKAR, Senegal (NNS) -- The Africa Partnership Station (APS) West platform USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) completed the final phase of its APS mission and departed Dakar, Senegal, April 26.

During the 20-day training period, called a "hub", APS Gunston Hall focused on a variety of areas such as port security, fisheries management and small boat operations, plus a handful of specialty skills where African sailors were paired with U.S. Navy Sailors, working side-by-side in a specific skill area.

"Maritime safety and security is important to all of us including the African countries that participate in APS," said APS West Commander, Capt. Cindy Thebaud, during a graduation ceremony held on the ship's flight deck April 23. "The challenges may vary a bit with each country, but maritime policing and understanding our maritime domain are key elements of national security. The themes and the concepts we address during this mission will ensure safer ports and waterways for Africa and the world's commerce – that's our unified goal."

In Senegal, the mission was robust, with more than 93 military and civilian maritime professionals from Cape Verde, Gambia, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo coming aboard for instruction on search-and-rescue procedures, maritime law, and maritime domain awareness.

"The classes offered here are tailored toward the specific needs and requests made by our hosts," said Lt. David Taylor, APS training officer. "They have identified key areas in their navies and coast guard to improve their overall level of effectiveness in maritime safety and security. Each of these courses offers practical knowledge and hands-on training in developing maritime strategies. The students could then return to their respective countries and tailor that training to their needs."

This APS mission included multinational training with the Spanish Navy Ship SPS Centinela (P 72) and the Senegalese Navy Ship Poponguine. During a six-day underway period, African sailors had the opportunity to spend a day aboard these ships and participate in multiple training scenarios such as basic first aid, damage control, and weapons familiarization.

"One navy cannot do it alone," said Spanish Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mariano E. Romero, commanding officer of Centinela. "In a time like this when maritime safety and security is so vital, it is important that we work together to support other navies. Collaborative training is paramount in order to integrate all navies and receive a good picture of what is happening at sea."

APS is a multinational initiative under the auspices of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, designed to work cooperatively with U.S. European and African partners to enhance maritime safety and security on the African continent. It is a concept that provides a unique venue to align maritime engagements by employing a diverse team of maritime professionals in a variety of military capacities and civilian fields in support of maritime safety and security.

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