Joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) and its embarked detachment of U.S. Navy Sailors, civil service mariners, Cameroonian military personnel and U.S., Spanish and British Marines wrapped up their participation in Exercise Obangame Express 2015 on 25 March.
Spearhead is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to support the international collaborative capacity-building program Africa Partnership Station (APS). Obangame Express, APS’s largest annual multinational exercise, is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, and is designed to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The Spearhead’s civil service mariner crew, embarked Sailors and Marines from the U.S., Great Britain and Spain, alongside our embarked partner nation Cameroon, worked together as one team during Obangame Express 2015,” said Commander Matthew Flemming, Africa Partnership Station 2015 mission commander. “Obangame Express continues to build and enhance the Global Network of Navies by strengthening maritime partnerships and interoperability in the Gulf of Guinea region.”
“The USNS Spearhead was a proud participant in Obangame Express 2015. Through its role as a training platform in the Gulf of Guinea, Spearhead helped improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of all partner nations involved,” said Captain James Regan, USNS Spearhead Ship’s Master.
Obangame Express, now in its fifth year, began March 19 with 23 countries and regional organizations working in maritime operations centres and aboard ships to cooperatively leverage the Yaoundé Code of Conduct for West and Central Africa, which provides a regional framework for cooperation and information sharing.
Participating nations in Obangame Express 2015 include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
During the exercise, Spearhead functioned as a platform for more than 40 Nigerian and Cameroonian military personnel, who trained with Spearhead’s embarked personnel to perform four maritime interdiction boarding exercises. During the interdictions, training objectives included take downs in Spearhead’s bridge and engineering spaces, the recovery of a notional illegal-weapons cache, and the professional handling of non-compliant role players.
Spearhead, a 338-foot-long aluminium catamaran with a 20,000 square-foot mission bay area, can be reconfigured to allow it to adapt to a wide-range of operations and missions. Potential missions include carrying containerized portable hospitals for disaster relief to transporting tanks and troops. The vessel can travel at speeds of up to 35 knots.