Ten ships from 12 host nations kicked-off Saharan Express 2012, a multinational exercise in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS), at the pre-sail conference in Dakar April 23.
The countries met to coordinate maritime operations prior to the exercise, which focuses on combating illicit activities -such as illegal fishing, trafficking and piracy – that are endangering the maritime security in many of the participant nations.
“We all know that illegal fishing threatens the food security of our countries,” said Senegalese Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Mohamed Sane. “Illegal acts like immigration, arms trafficking, pollution, piracy and terrorism threaten social stability. No maritime power can face these challenges alone.”
The unified effort is part of a global effort that has expanded its reach to require a joint team to handle the challenge of maritime safety.
“Maritime security is everybody’s problem,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Meydenbauer, deputy chief at the U.S. Embassy’s office of security cooperation in Dakar. “It’s a challenge all over the globe. No one nation can handle it alone.”
This is the second year for Exercise Saharan Express, and it has expanded over last year. This year, for the first time, Senegalese medical teams will be providing in-port training for participants. And next year planners say they hope to add an additional one or two more participating countries.
“Clearly we’re building year by year,” said the commanding officer of British ship HMS Dauntless, Capt. Will Warrender. “A key point is that we continue to make progress.”
Exercise Saharan Express’s scenarios focus on maritime interdiction operations including visit, board, search and seizure drills; search and rescue scenarios; medical casualty drills; radio communication drills; and information management practice techniques. They will run off the coasts of Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal, and The Gambia, and will be monitored and controlled by multiple maritime operations centers in the region.
“Saharan Express will be for some participating nations to experience, and others to share knowledge,” said Adm. Sane. “All countries will learn. I have no doubt the objectives will be met and, just as important, will help build camaraderie. And I think camaraderie is an excellent investment.”
The scenarios will provide African, European and U.S. maritime services the opportunity to work together, share information and refine tactics, techniques and procedures in order to help West African maritime nations to monitor and enforce their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, France, The Gambia, Liberia, Mauritania, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in Saharan Express 2012.
APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. 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.
Naval Today Staff , April 26, 2012; Image: africorm