Posted by: APO | 13 April 2008

Africa Partnership Station Completes Concludes First Deployment with Maritime Safety and Security Symposium


For Immediate Release                         12 April 2008

 

Africa Partnership Station Completes Concludes First Deployment with Maritime Safety and Security Symposium

 

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class(AW) Brian A. Goyak,

Africa Partnership Station Public Affairs

 

DAKAR, Senegal – The first deployment of Africa Partnership Station concludes with a Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) symposium held here, Apr. 9. Naval leaders from West and Central Africa as well as Europe and the United States gathered to discuss the success and future of APS within the region.

“APS has had in important impact on building the capacities and capabilities of the Gulf of Guinea Navies, which helps them in regards to maritime safety and security,” said Lt. Cmdr. Clement Fru Fon, Cameroonian Navy, APS Staff Officer and Ship Rider Coordinator. “During the symposium, representatives from the Gulf of Guineas Navies spoke about ways APS has helped their countries and came up with proposals about how the next APS can be improved. They suggested that the Africans who have participated in the execution of this APS should participate in the planning of the next APS so that lessons learned this time can be implemented.”

    APS is a concept designed to increase MSS through regional partnerships using an at-sea platform, which produces maximum results while leaving a minimal footprint ashore.

“When we look around this room we see a lot of different uniforms but we see people that are interested in maritime safety and security,” said Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. “I think we all have that same common goal and today we want to review how well we are doing at maritime safety and security and how we all can improve.”

    Over the course of seven months, APS has visited 19 ports of call in 10 countries and trained over 1500 maritime professionals in skills ranging from small boat handling, port security, and martial arts to non-commissioned officer leadership, damage control, and maritime law.     

“We have been working with our partners in many European countries. The French have been down here with a number of ships and we have been working very closely with them,” said Rear Adm. Anthony M. Kurta, U.S. Naval Forces Europe. “The staff of APS has also been very international in nature; we’ve had representatives from Portugal, France, Germany, and England as well as many staff members from our African partners as well.”

    Additionally, APS worked with non-governmental organizations such as Project Handclasp, USAID, and Project Hope to bring relief and aid to many people in need. With the help of APS, Project Hope was able to donate five hundred thousand high nutritional meals, twenty-five pallets of medical, hygiene and educational supplies along with hospital beds and medical equipment valued at over one hundred thousand dollars.

    “As we started lap two, we had the unrest in Chad where a number of refugees came over the Cameroonian border. The U.S. ambassador in Cameroon and the leadership there were familiar with APS,” said Capt. John Nowell, Commander Africa Partnership Station. “They were familiar with some of the items we had onboard including some high nutrition meals. They were familiar with our flexibility and so they asked if we could accelerate getting Swift there. Then we used the relationships we had with organizations like USAID and Catholic Relief Services as well as local organizations to facilitate getting those products off the ship and to the right place for use in the refugee operation.”

    APS was not all about training in the maritime domain. While in port, numerous Sailors from USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), HSV-2 Swift and APS staff gave of their liberty time to participate in 23 community relation (COMREL) projects. More than sixty-five thousand dollars was spent on various projects ranging in scale from building picnic tables for the Gamboa School in Sao Tome and Principe to completely replacing the roof of the Matanda School in Port Gentil, Gabon.

    “We will always make the point that we are not here for APS just to do humanitarian assistance kinds of actions. We are here to do maritime safety and security but we have the ability to do a lot with respect to humanitarian assistance and community outreach. It is very good for promoting good will and forming relationships,” added Nowell.

    Being a concept, it is not necessary for APS to be lead by the U.S. from a large ship such as Fort McHenry. APS can continue with small mobile training teams, aircraft detachments, or a ship from one of the partner nations. APS will continue to deliver the right training based on the needs of the host nations in the region.    

    “One of the things that we have promised and put our prestige on the line with the African countries is that we will be persistence in our presence here off of west and central Africa,” said Kurta. “So while we’ve had ships deployed here over the last couple of months we need to keep that presence going for the next many years.”

    Part of the U.S. Navy’s Global Fleet Station, APS provides a platform with the capacity and persistent presence to support sustained, focused training and collaboration on a regional scale to maritime partners in West and Central Africa. Commander Task Force 365 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are embarked on board Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships.


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