The Spanish Navy’s Oceanic Patrol Vessel (OPV) ‘Infanta Elena’ has left Cartagena to take part in different cooperation-related activities in the African continent that the Ministry of Defense and the Spanish Navy carry out as part of the ‘Africa Partnership Station’ (APS) initiative. The deployment is scheduled to conclude on May 11th.
During this two and a half month-long deployment, the ‘Infanta Elena’ will participate in several APS maritime security exercises. The first one is ‘Saharan Express’, an exercise intended to develop and improve regional capabilities to allow the nations involved to indigenously control their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
The second exercise, ‘Obangame Express’, will focus on maritime interdiction operations (MIO); that is, embargo, illegal trafficking and anti-terrorist operations.
‘Africa Partnership Station’ is an international strategic program designed to build skills and expertise providing assistance to West African nations with joint training exercises. The initiative intends to improve maritime security and stability in the area, enhancing the capabilities of those nations. Other participating nations include: the United States, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Brazil, Turkey, Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Congo Republic, Benin and Sao Tome and Principe.
Defense Diplomacy Plan
During her deployment in Africa, the oceanic patrol vessel will also support the defense diplomacy plan, a series of international activities based on dialogue and cooperation which the Spanish Ministry of Defense regularly carries out at bilateral level with allied and partner nations to foster the implementation of defense policy objectives like conflicts prevention or the strengthening of security capabilities.
Accordingly, the ‘Infanta Elena’ is scheduled to call at the following ports: Dakar (Senegal), Porto Grande (Cape Verde), Duala (Cameroun), Lobito (Angola), Lagos (Nigeria) and Nouakchott (Mauritania).
The OPV ‘Infanta Elena’, under the command of lieutenant-commander Jorge Melero, is the third ‘Descubierta’-class corvette built by the former Bazán Shipyards (now Navantia) in Cartagena, and delivered to the Spanish Navy in 1980. From September 2004 to June 2005 the ship was converted into an oceanic patrol vessel with serial number P-76. Her home port is Cartagena and is usually tasked with the following missions: maritime security, fight against sea pollution, detection and tracking of suspected illegal activities, and collaboration with other State Security and Constabulary departments fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.
|INFANTA ELENA SPECIFICATIONS|
|Displacement||1,233 tons standard, 1,482 tons full load|
|Range||4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)|
Press Release, February 27, 2014; Image: Spanish Navy