The Spanish Navy vessel Infanta Elena will visit Angola’s port of Lobito between April 6 and 10 in a first of a kind visit to the southern African country.
According to a press release from the Spanish Embassy, the vessel’s visit will strengthen bilateral relations between the militaries of both countries.
Since departing Spain on February 25, Infanta Elena has been visiting various African countries in an effort to improve diplomatic ties and strengthen maritime security cooperation, particularly through the Africa Partnership Station endeavour. Up until May 11, she is scheduled to take part in several exercises, including Saharan Express and Obangame Express, according to the Spanish Navy.
Saharan Express concluded late last month. The six-day exercise began with a port call in Dakar before Infanta Elena sailed off the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania training local VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) teams. The Spanish oceanic patrol boat was ‘boarded’ by teams from the Senegalese, Mauritanian and Moroccan navies. Infanta Elena in turn, participated in another VBSS exercise boarding the Moroccan Navy ship Mohammed V. Other exercises were also conducted with the French ship Commandant Birot.
As part of her deployment to Africa, Infanta Elena is scheduled to call at ports in Senegal (Dakar), Cape Verde (Porto Grande), Cameroon (Douala), Nigeria (Lagos) and Mauritania (Nouakchott). Whilst in Nigeria, Infanta Elena will take part in Exercise Obangame Express.
The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Infanta Elena is the third of six Descubierta class corvettes constructed. She was delivered to the Spanish Navy in 1980. Between September 2004 and June 2005 she was converted into an oceanic patrol vessel and home ported in Cartagena.
Infanta Elena has previously been deployed to the East African coast as part of the European Union Naval Force’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta and has captured a number of Somali pirates.