- Partners 20 African nations, 11 allied countries
The Nigerian Navy (NN) is set to deploy several warships and helicopters to participate in a multinational sea exercise codenamed ‘Obangame’, a Funtua word for ‘togetherness’.
According to the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak, the navy will host 20 African nations and 11 allied countries.
During the five-day long sea exercise, the NN is expected to play host to 31 navies from countries like US, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic, Senegal and Cameroon, among others.
Hosted by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibas, eight Nigerian Navy Ships including two offshore patrol vessels; NNS Centenary and NNS Unity, two helicopters, one ship each from US, Portugal and Morocco would be participating in Lagos area.
Ngalabak said the exercise is aimed at assessing and improving GoG law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security, improve knowledge of African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) planning and operations, and shape security force assistance efforts.
The overall objectives are to excercise each of the participating countries capabilities in Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Interdiction Operations.
He said: “The first Obangame Express is an annual multi-phased exercise sponsored by the US Naval Force Africa (US NAVAF).
“The first Obangame Express was held in 2010 promote the importance of regional cooperation between all the navies in the Gulf of Guinea. It is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information sharing and enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinean and West African nations to counter illegalities in the maritime domain.
“Specifically, the exercise objectives include to demonstrate and evaluate maritime operation centres interoperability across the region and demonstrate and evaluate tactical maritime interdiction operations capability.
“Also to demonstrate and evaluate operational capability to respond to maritime events, prevent and counter maritime threats; demonstrate power projection and the ability to effectively operate as a multinational force under a regional control authority; demonstrate and evaluate maritime operations Centre operability with tactical units and evaluate and acess Africa Partnership Station (APS) training effects.”
Already, the exercise commenced on Monday with the inport training of special forces personnel from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon and Benin.
Earlier, the Director of Naval Information (DINFO), Commodore Suleiman Dahun in a statement said the sea exercise would be held in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) waters.
He said: “The Nigerian Navy will be hosting a multinational naval exercise in Nigerian waters from March 15-20, 2019. The opening ceremony would be held on March 14, before the participating navy ships will cast off from Naval Dockyard in Victoria Island for the exercise.
“The Exercise called OBANGAME involves navies in the Gulf of Guinea, European and US Navy. The aim of the exercise is to deepen cooperation amongst Gulf of Guinea navies.
“Obangame Express is an annual multinational exercise supported by African, European and US partners.
“It was designed to improve cooperation and tactical expertise among participating nations in order to increase maritime safely and security for Gulf of Guinea nations.
“ The Nigerian Navy will be hosting this year‘s exercise and has committed some of its capital ships and helicopters towards the exercise.”
While at sea, the participating platforms are expected to conduct exercises like counter illicit trafficking, search and rescue, counter-piracy, energy security, as at-sea ship boarding and queries, air operations, communication drills, regional information sharing and anti-illegal fishing, as well as advanced medical training. Also, exercises featured were tactical manoeuvring, vessel boarding search and seizure (VBSS).
Obangame Express is an international maritime interdiction and interoperability exercise, which was started in 2010.