Ten sailors from six African nations have spent 27 days aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) as part of the US Africa Partnership Station (APS).
The APS shipriders came from the navies of Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo and Togo. They boarded Simpson in Morocco when the frigate made a port call in Casablanca, on January 31, and disembarked on Monday.
“I think the most important part of the APS mission is to have the sailors embarked,” said Commander Leonard Milliken, Simpson’s commanding officer. “Each rider is exposed to the daily operations of a US warship. That can’t be taught in a classroom or through PowerPoint. The exposure for my crew to these sailors is priceless as well. As the riders depart, it is definitely understood by all that it didn’t really matter what country you are because in the end, we all understood we are all sailors.”
During their time aboard, the shipriders observed or participated in various shipboard activities such as navigation, medical training, damage control, boat operations, and small arms.
“This experience coming aboard Simpson is the first of its kind for me,” said Cameroonian Navy Sergeant Nkwanda Manases. “I’m really impressed with all the hard work that the sailors here do. They are the ones that keep the ship moving day and night, 24 hours.”
The APS shipriders also completed personal qualification standards relating to the jobs they do in their navy.
“First of all it’s good to know that the Gabonese Navy and the US Navy can come together,” said Gabon Ensign Luther Moulongui. “Personally and technically, as an engineer in my country, I have gained more knowledge about gas turbine engines that will help me do my job more efficiently in the future.”
APS is an international security cooperation initiative facilitated by US 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.
2012 is the fifth year of the APS program’s existence, and this year is the first time Simpson has had the opportunity to support APS while underway.
Simpson, homeported out of Mayport, Florida is currently participating in Exercise Obangame Express 2012. The at-sea maritime exercise is designed to put skills learned from previous APS training events to test in a regional maritime exercise among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.