The largest multinational maritime exercise in Western and Central Africa, Exercise Obangame Express 2023, will kick off its 12th year with 29 participating nations at an opening ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria, in January 23, 2023.
Conducted by the United States Naval Forces Africa and sponsored by the United States Africa Command, the OE23 is designed to improve regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated fishing and other sea-based illicit activity, the press office of the US Navy says in a statement.
According to the statement, AFRICOM assists African partners with protecting their maritime economy in order to ensure continued sustainable use of maritime resources and enable the security and stability of global maritime trade.
The OE23, one of three NAVAF-facilitated regional exercises, provides collaborative opportunities for African and U.S. forces, and international partners to address shared transnational maritime concerns. NAVAF’s ongoing maritime security cooperation with African partners focuses on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure, according to the statement.
“Exercise Obangame Express 23 provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation and share tactics, techniques and procedures for deterring transnational maritime security challenges,” said Rear Adm. Chase Patrick, director of maritime headquarters, NAVAF. “Together, we are creating a more secure, safe, and economically prosperous maritime environment for Africa’s coastal nations and the global community.”
Nigeria will host this year’s exercise in Lagos. The exercise will also feature multiple at sea and ashore training events throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Southern Atlantic Ocean, including exchanges on boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques, the statement says.
The 29 nations scheduled to participate in the OE23 include Angola, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the United States. Also participating will be the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States.
The statement notes that for more than 80 years, the US Naval Forces Europe-US Naval Forces Africa has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, the NAVEUR-NAVAF operates the US naval forces in the US European Command and the US Africa Command areas of responsibility. US Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, the statement concludes.