As a means of strengthening the position of Liberia in the comity of nations in the maritime sector, the Maritime Authority in Liberia has joined 30 other countries to participate in the Obangame Express (OE21) which kickoff on Friday, March 19, in Ghana.
Obangame Express (OE21) is the largest multinational maritime exercise in West Africa, which is geared towards boosting maritime activities across the West African region, Africa and the World at large.
The 2021 edition of the Obangame Express is the 10th of its kind which opening ceremony is expected to commence in Accra, Ghana.
The OE21, which is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA), information sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise as a means of enhancing the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activities.
“Obangame Express allows us to develop skills with our regional partners that will have a lasting impact on regional security in the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean, “Rear Admiral Michael Baze, Director of Maritime Headquarters, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, noted.
Director Baze added: “Our past exercises led to tangibles, real world success stories and OE21 is a chance for us to build upon those successes.”
AFRICOM essentially assists African partner nation’s effort to protect the maritime economy in order to ensure continued and sustainable use of maritime resources and enable maritime trade.
For his part, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, Ghana’s Chief of Naval Staff, indicated that the Ghana Navy is once again honored to host the Obangame Express, the multinational exercise that seeks to build the capacity of the navies in the Gulf of Guinea region.
He indicated that the focus of the Obangame Express will be tailored around ensuring the enhancement of interoperability, information sharing, and implementation of laid down inter-agency procedures towards ensuring maritime security by all stakeholders.
OE21, one0 of the three U.S. Naval Forces in Africa facilitated regional exercises, is part of a comprehensive strategy by NAVAFSIXTHFLT and AFRICOM to provide collaborative opportunities for African Forces and international partners to address maritime security concerns.
“The exercise will be conducted in multiple areas at seas and ashore,” said Yakubu, adding: “At sea, operations will be conducted throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. This year marks the second time the exercise will be hosted in Ghana, in the capital city of Accra”.
Numerous Maritime Operations Centers will participate ashore from across the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa along with several international organizations. Training opportunities during OE21 include boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, and radio communication and information management techniques.
“Our maritime security partnerships prepare African nations to prevent piracy and other illicit maritime activities that threaten development efforts, citizen security, and deprive states of resources required for fostering greater economic growth,” said U.S. ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan.
“Exercise like the multinational Obangame Express regional maritime exercise creates a cohesive community that is in a stronger position to confront these challenges,” the American legate said.
The 32 nations scheduled to participate in OE21 include; Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome& Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, and the United States.
Also participating will be the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).