Cape Verde and United States Coast Guard personnel as well as sailors from the guided missile frigate USS Simpson have participated in African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations off Cape Verde.
Six members of the Cape Verde’s Coast Guard, Maritime and Judicial Police unit joined eight members of a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) and sailors from the USS Simpson (FFG 56) for the operations between March 27 and April 18, according to US Africa Command.
AMLEP is the operational phase of Africa Partnership Station (APS), a programme that aims to strengthen maritime partnerships to improve safety and security in Africa.
“AMLEP is a programme [with] the United States, African and European countries in a reinforced measure to help enhance law enforcement presence in their territorial waters,” said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist Lee Conroy, LEDET team leader attached to Simpson. “The purpose is to protect by suppressing and intercepting maritime-transnational illicit violations.”
Units involved in AMLEP include maritime forces from Cape Verde, Spain and the United States. In addition to USS Simpson, the Spanish Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) ESPS Vencedora (P-79) participated in AMLEP.
“It’s been a demonstration of force,” said Cape Verde Coast Guard Sergeant Adjunct Elisangelo Baretto. “The sailors and U.S. Coast Guardsmen on the ship have been very useful. It’s great that, because of AMLEP, the bad guys are going to start thinking twice before they attempt to transit our coastal waters.”
Working from the counternarcotics and maritime security (COSMAR) Interagency Operations Center in support of AMLEP is one U.S. representative from the Joint Interagency Task Force (South), based out of Key West, Florida, along with three U.S. Coast Guard liaisons.
“The Coast Guard has had a large presence in Northwest Africa over the past few years,” said Conroy. “To be a part of this, we are building partnerships and ties with African countries.”
Cape Verde is leading this combined AMLEP operation, providing all operational tasks from the COSMAR.
“This group that we have been working with is forward leaning and very proactive,” added Conroy. “Sergeant Baretto has a lot of drive and a lot of enthusiasm for this mission and for Cape Verde’s Coast Guard. I’ve learned a lot of positive leadership just from his interaction with his people.”
Two vessel boardings took place during the AMLEP operation, resulting in fines levied for a fisheries violation.
“Our goal was to do as much as we could,” said Baretto. “At the start of the mission we were thinking big. I think that is the right way to think, with high expectations. I hope in the future we can have more U.S. Navy ships involved in Cape Verde.”
AMLEP operations directly support APS through building and reinforcing international partnerships that are focused on providing maritime safety and security in Africa, Africa Command said.