US Navy makes first Africa Partnership Station port visit to Namibia

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The US Navy’s High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) made a port visit to Walvis Bay in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2012, the first APS visit and the first U.S. Navy vessel port-of-call to Namibia in over a decade.

The last time a U.S. Navy vessel visited Namibia was in 1999.

Highlights of the visit, between May 22 and 23, included service members participating in community service projects at the Walvis Bay District damara tern breeding ground and the Sunshine Centre Home for Disabled Children; an official reception on board Swift hosted by the U.S. ambassador to Namibia; and musical performances by members of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band at the Walvis Bay Mission to Seafarers and the Sunshine Centre.

Senior leadership office calls facilitating discussions on APS rounded-out the schedule of events for the busy two-day visit.
“Let me welcome the U.S. Navy on behalf of Walvis Bay. I appreciate you being here, and I would like for you to feel comfortable,” said Rear Admiral Ndeshiningilwa Nghipandua, Namibian Navy chief of naval operations, at an office call at the Walvis Bay Navy Base.

During the ambassador’s reception hosted on board Swift, Captain Susan Dunlap, director of Navy Africa Region, spoke about the importance of APS, underscoring a united global maritime community made up of partner nations as essential to the APS mission.
“APS aims to help African navies provide for their own maritime security. Besides the U.S., there are 11 European partners and 27 African partner nations that have participated in APS since its inception in 2007,” said Dunlap.
“So what do partner nations get from participating in APS? Because today’s maritime challenges are global, now more than ever, countering piracy, drug trafficking and terrorism at sea is in all our best interests,” said Dunlap. “And so is helping African nations improve maritime security – here, in this vast, beautiful and diverse continent of Africa.”

U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia Wanda Nesbitt echoed the importance of international cooperation in her remarks.
“This ship visit is an opportunity for us to reflect on the important contributions that military-to-military cooperation can bring to our respective societies,” said Nesbitt.

She continued by mentioning de-mining and HIV/AIDS prevention programs as efforts both the U.S. military and Namibian Defense Force have worked on together over the years.

The ambassador closed her remarks with a summary that reinforced Dunlap’s message and also applies to the APS mission.
“Mankind has been sailing the seas for centuries. I hope that the sense of adventure that must have infused our early explorer sailors will always live on, because it is precisely that sense of adventure that enables us to bridge the cultural, economic, and even technological gaps we face today in search of peace and harmony across this great world of ours,” Nesbitt said.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.