The Nigerian Navy in Lagos on Friday launched a sea operation tagged `Obangame Express 2019′ to promote regional cooperation among navies of the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) countries.
The Gulf of Guinea includes several West African countries that border the Atlantic Ocean namely: Benin, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas, who launched the operation, on the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Centenary at Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos, said that the exercise was also intended to encourage cooperation between the navies of GOG countries and those of other countries.
According to Ibas, who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Adm. Francis Isaac, the collaboration between the navies was to promote inter-agency and transnational cooperation on maritime safety and security, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.
The operation, which is expected to end on March 22, will be conducted simultaneously in various countries.
“Our ships will be participating alongside some international forces such as U.S , Portugal, and Morocco.
“We will be looking at fictitious exercises such as anti-piracy situation, search and rescue, anti-bunkering, and other forms of exercises.
“The exercise is designed to promote regional cooperation among navies in the Gulf of Guinea,’’ he said.
31 countries will be participating in the multi-national operation.
Eight Nigerian Navy ships including two Offshore Patrol Vessels Centenary and Unity, two Helos, and one ship each from US, Portugal and Morocco will be participating in the operation in the Lagos area.
Exercise Obangame Express, which was first held in 2010, was an annual multi-phased exercise sponsored by the United States Naval Force Africa (US NAVAF).
It is intended 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.