Spanish Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) ‘Infanta Elena’ has just concluded her participation in the international exercise ‘Saharan Express’ intended to develop and strengthen the capabilities of African nations in the control of their own territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
The African Partnership Station (APS) is an initiative designed to enhance the stability and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea by increasing the operational capabilities of West African nations through joint training exercises.
The six-day exercise began with a port of call at Dakar (Senegal) to plan and schedule the naval activities of the following days. During the call the OPV welcomed the Spanish Ambassador on board.
Subsequently, the ship sailed off the coasts of Senegal and Mauritania training local VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) teams. Specifically, the Spanish oceanic patrol boat was ‘boarded’ by teams from the Senegalese, Mauritanian and Moroccan navies. Each exercise was programmed in two stages (morning and afternoon) and was adapted to the operational capabilities of the navies concerned.
The ‘Infanta Elena’, in turn, participated in another VBSS exercise boarding the Moroccan Navy ship ‘Mohammed V’. Other tactical drills were also programmed with the French ship ‘Commandant Birot’ to enhance mutual training. The exercise concluded with another call at Dakar where the results of the drills were thoroughly studied and analyzed.
At this very moment the OPV ‘Infanta Elena’ continues with her deployment sailing around the West African coast. The following scheduled ports of call are Mindelo (Cape Verde), Douala (Cameroon), Lobito (Angola), Nouakchott (Mauritania) and Lagos (Nigeria), where she will take part in the maritime interdiction exercise ‘Obaganme Express.
Press Release, March 21, 2014; Image: Spanish Navy