French and West African navies practiced anti-piracy drills in Exercise Nemo


Two French warships have taken part in a maritime exercise in the Gulf of Guinea with regional navies in an effort to sharpen their anti-piracy skills.

The French vessels Lieutenant de vaisseau Lavallee and Tonnerre took part in Exercise Nemo 2015 between 19 and 22 January. The exercise strengthens a 2013 agreement between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and West Africa (ECOWAS) to fight piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Nemo 2015 was conducted in collaboration with the navies of Gabon, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, and for the first time Ghana. Two American observers from the US Navy also took part.

The objectives of the exercise were cooperation regarding piracy and illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and testing interoperability. During the exercise the Lieutenant de vaisseau Lavallee simulated a pirate mother ship while the Tonnerre simulated an oil tanker being targeted by pirates. The vessels were tracked by Cameroon and Nigeria as they sailed through their waters.

Sailors from Benin’s navy subsequently boarded the Tonnerre and made sure there were no pirates on board while the navies of Togo and Ghana helped locate and track the ship. On the last day of the exercise, Togolese sailors carried out a drill simulating a ship carrying illegally caught fish.