Obangame Express, conducted by US Naval Forces Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. It focuses on maritime interdiction operation, as well as visit, board, search, and seizure techniques. Obangame Express, which began in 2011, was part of the larger Express Series exercises, designed to test skills obtained from participating in bilateral and Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative. Obangame Express was connected specifically with the APS West initiative.
Obangame Express 2011 was held between 18 and 22 March 2011. During Obangame Express 11, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECOWAS) controlled the exercise from the Cameroon navy command center in Douala, Cameroon, effectively giving command and control to African maritime professionals. US participation in Obangame Express 2012 included the USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), which arrived in Limbre, Cameroon on 21 March 2011. The USS Robert G. Bradley concluded its participation in Exercise Obangame Express 11 on 23 March 2011. The Robert G. Bradley, along with ships from Belgium, Cameroon, France, Gabon, Nigeria, and Spain, participated in the exercise, which focused on maritime domain awareness with the specific challenges faced by the interoperability of a multinational force to improve its proficiency at sea. The Exercise's pre-sail conference and post-exercise debrief were held at the Cameroon Navy Base in Douala, Cameroon, allowing the navies to express mission successes and also offer suggestions for improvements. This multinational cooperation ensures continued success for interoperability and proficiency of the regional maritime stake holders in the Gulf of Guinea.
US participation in Obangame Express 2012 included the USS Simpson (FFG 56). During the exercise, Simpson acted as a boarding vessel with role players and trainers for teams from five countries - Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and Spain. Simpson also sent its boarding team to a Nigerian navy vessel, the patrol cutter NNS Nwamba (A 503), two different times to practice boarding techniques while other sailors, both officer and enlisted, visited six ships for training with respective counterparts in their job area. Also during its participation, Simpson helped coordinate ship formations and maneuvering with other countries' vessels through tactical communication drills relayed from its pilot house.
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