Participants from 14 nations attended a pre-sail conference on Mar 7, to kick off Exercise Saharan Express 2013 (SE-13).
SE-13 is a maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase counter-piracy capabilities and deter maritime crimes in West Africa.
This exercise provides African, European and U.S. maritime services the opportunity to work together, share information and refine methods in order to help West African nations better monitor and enforce their territorial waters.
“Saharan Express is important because the skills we will practice over the next few weeks can be used to enforce African maritime laws, and that will ultimately improve the lives of the people from the nations represented here,” said Capt. Andrew Lennon, U.S. exercise director.
Although focused on counter-piracy and maritime security operations, the exercise includes a wide variety of training for all participating forces, including at-sea ship boarding and queries, medical familiarization, air operations, communication drills and regional information sharing.
SE-13, which has occurred annually since 2011, is one of the four African regional Express-series exercises known as Africa Partnership Station (APS). The regional maritime exercises test skills learned from previous APS training events.
“Since 2011, Exercise Saharan Express has become the most privileged time of year in the annual event calendar of the Senegalese navy,” said Rear Adm. Cheikh Bara Cissokho, Senegalese chief of navy staff. “Saharan Express is a pertinent concept that contributes to raising the operational level of our forces and the fight against trafficking at sea.”
SE-13 takes place following the successful completion of Exercise Obangame Express 2013 (OE-13), another APS regional exercise focused on the Gulf of Guinea.
As part of the U.S. Navy’s global maritime partnerships, APS was developed to support sustained, focused training and multinational and organizational collaboration on a regional scale in order to increase maritime safety and security in Africa.
APS serves to strengthen global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
Eight West African and six European nations are scheduled to participate in SE-13 including Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, France, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, The Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.