USNS Carson City (T-EFP 7), a Military Sealift Command Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship, arrived in Dakar, Senegal, on 6 July for the first port visit of its Africa Partnership Station (APS) deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
“I am happy to be here in Dakar, Senegal,” said Cmdr. Tyrone Bruce, officer in charge of the military detachment aboard Carson City. “The side-by-side engagements will strengthen the bond between the nations, allowing us to achieve greater progress through partnership.”
Task Force 63 deployed Carson City to support patrol boat maintenance and logistics training, visit, board, search and seizure engagements, and community outreach in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Cabo Verde in order to enhance partner capability and strengthen partner networks.
The port visit marks the U.S. Navy’s second deployment to the Gulf of Guinea this year and the first of six scheduled port visits in the region with African partners.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how the Senegalese navy operates and any adaptations they make or ways they improvise to get the job done,” said Hospitalman Chris Beller, assigned to U.S. Naval Hospital Naples, Italy. “I’m also looking forward to the different training we’re providing on at-sea care and maybe learning any medical differences between the doctors and practitioners.”
U.S. Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and international partners from Spain, Portugal and Italy are embarked and scheduled to work alongside their regional partners in the Gulf of Guinea. The U.S. Naval Forces Europe band arrived ahead of the crew for some radio shows and is scheduled to conduct multiple performances for the local community.
“I’m a big history guy and I’m eager to see the culture and how their country has developed since they got their independence,” said Beller. “They’re only 59 years old and have a heavy Muslim and European influence.”
During the visit, the crew and embarked military personnel of Carson City are scheduled to hold a reception for distinguished visitors and local leaders aboard the ship.
“It’s my first mission,” said Beller. “I’m excited to be on it.”
APS is U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s flagship maritime security cooperation program focusing on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure. It consists of the various exercises and operations conducted by U.S., European, and African partners and allies throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
“The deployment of USNS Carson City to the Gulf of Guinea enables our partners to improve maritime security along their coastlines, territorial seas, and exclusive economic zones,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “Maritime security is critical for coastal nations as seaborne trade is the lifeblood of global trade. When maritime trade freely sails across the seas, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible.”
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Thetis (WMEC 910) was the first U.S. ship to deploy to the Gulf of Guinea in 2019.
“Thetis conducted training with our African partners on maritime law enforcement throughout exercise Obangame Express 2019 and continued training with our partners in the region during its deployment,” said Foggo. “Carson City’s deployment will enhance Gulf of Guinea nations’ maritime capabilities through workshops and collaboration. The presence of U.S. ships such as Thetis and Carson City helps address some of the challenges our African navies and coast guards have requested assistance with, including law enforcement and maritime resource management.”
“Not only do we have U.S. service members from the Navy and Coast Guard, but we also have members of the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian navies embarked to help ensure our African partners are getting the assistance and mentorship they need to succeed,” said Foggo. “We are also embarking members of the Ghana Navy for a brief period. Together, we are promoting progress through partnership.”
Thetis’ deployment earlier this year, like the Carson City deployment, was part of the APS program. The cutter was in Africa theater for three months, conducting training with regional countries on law enforcement tactics and techniques to combat illegal fishing, human and narcotics trafficking, piracy, and pollution.