The multi-national maritime exercise Saharan Express 2013 (SE-13) successfully ended with post-sail discussions last week.
SE-13, which began on March 7, is a maritime exercise designed to improve co-operation among participating nations to increase counter-piracy capabilities and deter maritime crimes in West Africa.
“During the exercise, eight West African nations, five European nations and the United States worked well together. With the skills they developed during Exercise Saharan Express participating nations are better prepared for real world operations. They now have a better capability to stop weapons and narcotics trafficking and prevent illegal fishing,” said Captain Andrew Lennon, US exercise director for SE-13.
Focusing on counter-piracy and maritime security operations, the exercise was designed to focus on a variety of training for participating forces, including at-sea ship boarding and queries, medical familiarisation, air operations, communication drills and regional information sharing.
“This marks the third time this exercise has been conducted,” said Lewis Lukens, US ambassador to Senegal. “I’m happy to say it has become a cornerstone in our efforts to achieve improvement in maritime security in the waters off West Africa.”
SE-13, staged annually since 2011, is one of the four African regional Express-series exercises known as Africa Partnership Station (APS). The regional maritime exercises test skills learned from previous APS training events.
“Saharan Express is not just another task passing across the desk of the Senegalese armed forces. It is an exercise of importance for the Senegalese navy and the naval forces of the sub-region. It allows us to practice techniques taught to our crews and is, as such, an indicator of the progress we are making in strengthening our capacity to carry out tasks entrusted to us,” said Rear Admiral Mohamed Sane, Senegalese Sous-Chef d’Etat Major Général des Armées.
During SE-13, 10 ships, four aircraft and four maritime operations centres were operated by participating nations to achieve common maritime security goals through partnerships and collaboration while focusing on deterring piracy, countering illicit trafficking and protecting resources.
As part of the US Navy’s global maritime partnerships, APS was developed to support sustained, focused training and multi-national and organisational collaboration on a regional scale to increase maritime safety and security in Africa.
Eight West African and six European nations participated in SE-13 including Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, France, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, The Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.