Crew members of Africa Partnership Station (APS) East celebrated the last week of official in-port training and maritime engagements with partnering African nations by hosting a graduation ceremony for Seychellois maritime professionals aboard APS platform high speed vessel Swift.
Swift arrived in Port Victoria on February 27; USS Nicholas (FFG 47), Swift’s APS East 2010 sister platform, arrived two days later on March 1. Once both ships were in port, the instructors began a an intense training schedule with maritime and civil service professionals from the Seychelles Coast Guard, Seychelles Special Forces Unit, Airport Firefighting Brigade, and local Fire Brigade.
The students were broken up into three courses with focus areas which included damage control and firefighting, train the trainer, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) procedures.
“Even though all of the courses are important, I think the most vital course is damage control and firefighting,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Bequette, an APS instructor. “If you are stationed on any kind of vessel, knowing how to save the ship during times of emergency can mean the difference between life and death.”
This point was further highlighted at the graduation ceremony by Major George Adeline, acting commander of the Seychelles Coast Guard.
“Throughout attending these courses, I hope you got a lot out of the practical application exercises,” said Adeline. “By far, the damage control and firefighting skills you learned this week are the most important because we must know how to save our ship as well as the lives of those around us.”
However, training wasn’t the only thing these students did during their time aboard; they were also able to engage with the sailors and get to know them on a personal level, creating working relationships between the forces.
“Working together, each of you have experienced cultural exchanges that have built long lasting relationships, which in turn will have a long-term effect as maritime partners in the future,” said Captain James E. Tranoris, APS East commander.
While in-port training for the 2010 APS mission has concluded, international ship riders will continue at-sea training aboard the Nicholas. During their deployment, ship riders from Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Mauritius learn basic watch-standing principles, leadership skills, damage control and engineering, and also build relationships with sailors from around the globe.
Swift and Nicholas have visited ports in Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius, and Seychelles. The ships bring teams of maritime experts from the US Navy and US Marine Corps to provide training and participate in exercises with their African counterparts. Combat lifesaving; damage control; law of war; visit, board, search and seizure; small boat operations/maintenance, train the trainer, combat lifesaver and physical security are just a few of the capabilities during in-port training.
APS East is an international cooperative initiative in support of Naval Forces Africa which aims to unite international partners to enhance maritime safety and security throughout the African continent.
Swift and Nicholas are on regular scheduled deployments within the US 6th Fleet area of responsibility. APS East is being conducted in cooperation with Commander, US Naval Forces Africa and US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
Pic: USS Nicholas (FFG 47)
Sources: www.africom.mil and US Naval Forces Africa