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International Partners Finalize Plans for Obangame Express 2014

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS140207-20
Release Date: 2/7/2014 1:43:00 PM

By Lt. Cmdr. Kevin West, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/
U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

LAGOS, Nigeria (NNS) -- Maritime professionals from West Africa, Europe, South America and the U.S. met to finalize plans for the fourth iteration of Obangame Express, Feb. 4-7.

Obangame Express, the largest at-sea exercise held in the Gulf of Guinea, will take place later this spring and will include navies from 22 nations with the goal of increasing maritime safety and security in the region.

'Obangame Express has been firmly established as a major program in the maritime security calendar for Gulf of Guinea countries,' said Rear Adm. Samuel Alade, Flag Officer Commanding of Nigeria's Western Naval Command. 'We have been able to use the acquired capacity to improve security within our maritime domain, in particular, and the wider Gulf of Guinea maritime area.'

Obangame Express, one of four regional 'Express' series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet will focus on increasing capabilities in deterring counter-piracy, counter illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats. Scenarios will test maritime skill sets such as at-sea ship boarding and queries, air operations, communication drills and regional information sharing.

Last year, Obangame Express 2013, held in Duala, Cameroon, brought together 12 ships from 10 nations. Obangame Express 2014 will mirror the positive results of last year's exercise, tailoring scenarios closely to real-world maritime security challenges. All participating nations agree that combating maritime threats cannot be a unilateral effort and look forward to developing cooperation and interoperability through the exercise.

'Our role is to support Gulf of Guinea nations as they share their knowledge,' said Capt. Nancy Lacore, Obangame Express Exercise Director, assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. 'No single country has the single-best idea. Information-sharing helps us arrive at the best approach. This is a valuable exercise because it allows for a collaborative process.'

Nations participating in this year's exercise include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey, and the United States.

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