Maritime Safety 31 Countries To Participate In `Obangame Express’ – Navy    

Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak, addressing journalists yesterday onboard Nigerian Navy Ship Centenary, on the coming Multi-National Sea Exercise Obangame Express at the Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos.

The Nigerian Navy in Lagos says 31 countries will be participating in the multinational sea exercise code named “Obangame Express’’, aimed at promoting regional cooperation among navies of Gulf of Guinea (GoG).

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Adm. Obed Ngalabak, disclosed this to journalists onboard Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Centenary at the Naval Dockyard Limited, on Tuesday in Lagos.

The exercise Obangame Express, which was first held in 2010, is an annual multi-phased exercise sponsored by the United State Naval Force Africa (US NAVAF).

The aim of the exercise which is slated for March 10 to March 22, is to promote the importance of regional cooperation between all the navies of the GOG.

It is also designed to improve maritime domain awareness, information sharing and enhance the collective capabilities of GOG and West African nations to counter illegality in the maritime domain.

According to Ngalabak, exercise Obangame Express which will be hosted by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas , will have about 31 participating countries including 20 African nations and 11 allied countries.

Ngalabak said: “Eight NNS including 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels Centenary and Unity, 2 helosand one ship each from US, Portugal and Morocco would be participating in Lagos area.

“The Obangame Express is aimed at assessing and improving GOG law enforcement capacity, promotes national and regional security, improving knowledge of African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) planning and operations and shape security force assistance efforts.

“The exercise would attract foreign guests and participants with domestic stakeholders in the maritime domain.

“The overall objectives are to exercise each of the participating countries capabilities in Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Interdiction Operations.’’

The FOC said that the exercise objectives were also to demonstrate and evaluate Maritime Operations Centres interoperability across the region.

“It is also to demonstrate and evaluate tactical Maritime Interdiction Operations capability, power projection and the ability to effectively operate as a multinational force under a regional control authority,” he added.

The FOC said there would also be a Senior Leadership Symposium during the exercise which would elicit discussions geared toward finding solutions to the common maritime security challenges.

“The training and the sea exercise would foster togetherness among regional and friendly navies in the task of enhancing governance in the GOG maritime domain,” he said.

Some of the African countries participating are Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon alongside Nigeria and others.