The US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) joined partners and allies for the 11th iteration of Exercise Obangame Express off West Africa.
Obangame Express is one of three regional African exercises facilitated by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa. The exercise is part of a comprehensive strategy by US Sixth Fleet and US Africa Command (AFRICOM) to provide collaborative opportunities among African forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns, the US Navy said on 10 March.
“Participating in Obangame Express showcases US, ally and partner nation commitment to the regional maritime security, stability and economic prosperity of our coastal African partners,” said Captain Michael Concannon, commanding officer, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. “As the first US Navy ship permanently assigned to the AFRICOM area of responsibility, we are excited to work with our partners to improve our communication and information sharing capabilities and increase partner nation capability to improve maritime security and stability. All coastal nations benefit from the free flow of materials and commerce through a safe and secure maritime domain.”
The exercise consists of classroom demonstrations and maritime events that focus on improving regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise that enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.
Obangame Express will see participation from 32 nations which include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, and the United States.
The exercise is due to kick off on 11 March with an opening ceremony in Dakar, Senegal. The exercise will be conducted in multiple areas at sea and ashore. At-sea operations will be conducted throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. This year’s exercise will be hosted by Senegal, in its capital city of Dakar.
Numerous Maritime Operations Centres will participate ashore from across the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa, along with several international organizations. Training opportunities during Obangame Express 22 include boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques.
Last year, Ghana hosted Obangame Express 21. “Maritime security is critical to West Africa’s stability and regional economic prosperity,” said Stephanie S Sullivan, US Ambassador to Ghana. “The United States is a proud security partner in West Africa. Exercises like this help us learn together – so that we can work better together – to ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea.”