The oceanic patrol vessel (OPV) ‘Infanta Elena’ has just returned to her home port in Cartagena after a 73-day deployment in the Gulf of Guinea and the West African coast.
During this tour, the Spanish Navy ship took part in a series of international maritime security exercises, and trained local navies to efficiently manage their own territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
The ‘Infanta Elena’ has sailed more than 10,000 miles since her departure from Cartagena on February 25th. Her activities are framed within the African Partnership Station (APS) initiative and the Spanish Defense Diplomacy Plan.
Participation in international exercises
During her deployment, the patrol vessel participated in the international exercises ‘Saharan Express’ and ‘Obangame Express’ intended to enhance the maritime interdiction (MIO), surveillance and maritime security capabilities of regional navies. The exercises tried to achieve a high level of interoperability among the different military and civilian stakeholders of those African nations.
Navies from the following nations also participated: Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Great Britain, France, Portugal, USA, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Turkey, Cameroon, Angola, Sao Tome, Brazil, Belgium, the Netherlands, Gabon, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Collaboration and training with African Navies
During this two and a half-month deployment, the ‘Infanta Elena’ has called at the following ports: Dakar (Senegal), Porto Grande (Cape Verde), Douala (Cameroon), Lobito (Angola), Lagos (Nigeria) and Nouakchott (Mauritania). Apart from the scheduled protocol visits, the crew of the Spanish OPV trained local servicemen in VBSS techniques and damage control procedures.
The ‘Infanta Elena’ embarked and trained a Boarding Squad from the Ivory Coast Navy during exercise ‘Obangame Express’, and two officers from the Mauritanian Navy for fishing control tasks. A Portuguese officer has also been on board since the middle of April.
Press Release, May 12, 2014; Image: Spanish Navy