The Nigerian Navy will on Thursday flag off a multinational maritime operation exercise christened ‘Obangame Express’.
A statement signed by Suleman Dahun on behalf of the Chief of Naval Staff noted that the exercise is sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command and is aimed at improving regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise.
The exercise will also “enhance the collective capabilities of the Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity,” Mr. Dahun, a Navy captain, said.
The Navy said ‘Obangame Express’ will be conducted in phases within the territorial waters of the participating nations.
The Nigerian phase of exercise is scheduled for March 24-28.
Nigerian Navy Ship OKPABANA, Nigerian Navy Ship CENTENARY, Nigerian Navy Ship SAGBAMA and one helicopter will be participating in the Exercise along with a French Navy ship, JACOUBET.
The French ship will sail into the Nigerian waters from Cameroon, the Navy said.
The ships will perform several exercises as will be presented by the exercise scenario.
Thirty nations are scheduled to participate in this year’s exercise. They are Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, and Guinea-Bissau.
Others are: Liberia, Nigeria, Norway, Mauritania, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, South Africa, Togo, Turkey, the Netherlands, and the United State.
Regional organisations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also scheduled to take part in the exercise.
Participants at the drill will create realistic scenarios that reflect past piracy incidents whereby a hijacked vessel will transit from one territory to another, the statement said.
Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) during the exercise will be challenged to recognise these illicit acts appropriately and share with other MOCs.
Additionally, the game will test the ability of all the participating maritime forces to patrol their respective economic zones and detect and prosecute illegal activity accordingly, the statement said.