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USS Robert G. Bradley, Cape Verdean Navy Complete Exercise Saharan Express

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110504-04
5/4/2011

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Darryl Wood, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/ Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

DAKAR, Senegal (NNS) -- USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) completed exercise Saharan Express with the Cape Verdean navy, April 27.

Saharan Express is a multinational exercise which focuses on counter narcotics and proliferation training and is a part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West.

Robert G. Bradley Sailors along with observers, planners, and coordinators from Cape Verde, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Spain, Gambia and the U.S. participated in the joint military exercise to improve communications and interoperability in the region.

"This was a wonderful opportunity to learn from our partnering countries' experience, to exchange ideas and to enhance security in our waters," said Senegalese navy Lt. Ousmane Niang. "It is important, because we know that the world is changing and each country has to adjust to enhance their security. We will not stop working towards safety and security in our region, and we will not stand by doing nothing."

Saharan Express brings together counter narcotics interdiction; counter proliferation; visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS); and search and rescue (SAR) training scenarios to develop and hone current methods used by each country participating in the exercise.

"Today we have seen the effects of partnering and training efforts that we have put together; African navies leading other African navies," said Rear Adm. Kenneth Norton, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Resources, and Plans. "Sierra Leone was empowered over the course of their training through APS and able to prosecute illegal fishing trawlers in their waters. The Tanzanian navy is now conducting counter piracy training on the east coast. We're seeing countries build up their coast guards and their navies. We are also seeing a regional rescue center coming on line in Liberia; all these things are because of Africa Partnership Station."

The VBSS training exercise portion took place aboard Robert G. Bradley, with the ship's VBSS team acting as observers and role players. This scenario provided the Cape Verdean navy with a sizeable threat vessel to closely mimic a real world interdiction challenge. At sea, security and communications are necessary for an effective VBSS team, and these skills must be trained frequently to remain effective.

"The training scenario with our partner island nation of Cape Verde simulated a compliant boarding where illegal drugs were found," said Sonar Technician 1st Class Jason Ashley, VBSS training team member. "Robert G. Bradley's VBSS training team provided role players to act as the boarded crew [who were unaware of their illegal cargo] and also provided critical observers to give feedback to the Cape Verdean boarding team."

Ashley continued talking about the Cape Verdean VBSS team's performance and how their capabilities will translate into real world operations.

"The Cape Verdean crew members were incredibly receptive to the VBSS training, and I firmly believe that they will utilize the lessons learned when conducting future VBSS missions," said Ashley.

The post-exercise hot wash held at the Senegalese navy base in Dakar April 29, allowed the participating navies to express mission successes and offer suggestions for improvements.

"This was a great inaugural exercise, and we plan to continue Saharan Express in the future to refine maritime capabilities, training scenarios, procedures and practices that we learn from each other, and continue to develop these capacities," said Norton.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Fla., and is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility.



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