Phoenix Express 2014, a multinational maritime exercise between North African, European, and U.S. naval forces, commenced its inport phase at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Training Center (NMIOTC) in Souda Bay, May 13.
The U.S. Africa Command-sponsored exercise, now in its eighth year, is designed to improve cooperation and interdiction expertise among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
Events held during the in-port phase will focus on medical and maritime interdiction operations (MIO) training at NMIOTC, while maritime forces located pier-side will conduct workshops in helicopter operations and safety, damage control and firefighting, deck seamanship, navigation, search and rescue (SAR), and small boat operations.
Once the two-week in port phase is complete, participating nations will practice a wide range of skill sets during underway operations in the central Mediterranean Sea from May 24-June 2. Personnel from participating nations will work together as part of a Combined Maritime Operations Center in Sigonella, Italy, to manage a common operational picture and provide tactical oversight of the participating ships, further enhancing interoperability.
Skills to be tested throughout the exercise include boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques.
Utilizing the Hellenic navy training ship Aris, boarding teams will be able to their strengthen expertise in boarding techniques in advance of the underway phase.
As boarding teams gathered at the NMIOTC for classroom sessions, participants expressed they looked forward to gaining important skill sets.
“This is the first time we’ve participated in Phoenix Express,” noted Lt. Col. Salem Alshwerif, Libyan Armed Forces. “The training at NMIOTC is excellent and will help us deal with maritime issues in the future.”
Countries participating in Phoenix Express 2014 include Algeria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.
Press Release, May 15, 2014; Image: NMIOTC