The Obangame Express, an annual combined Central and West African multinational maritime exercise is currently underway in Lagos, Nigeria.
It is in collaboration with the United States Naval Forces, Africa (NAVAF) in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) which involves the Ghana Navy, West and Central African navies and maritime stakeholders.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Public Relations of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Naval Captain Michael Addo Larbi, and copied to the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday.
According to the statement, the exercise which started on Monday, January 23, will end on Friday, February 3, 2023.
It said the event was in partnership with the United States and Euro-Atlantic navies and maritime stakeholders from 31 countries with a focus on increased regional cooperation and maritime safety and security.
The statement said the OBANGAME EXPRESS 2023 was designed to build the capacity of the navies in the GoG region to maintain a safe and secured maritime environment for socio-economic development involving stakeholders in Ghana’s maritime partners and cooperation at sea.
“The exercise also focuses on the practical implementation of some laid down inter-agency procedures towards managing maritime security threats and incidents and focuses mainly on information sharing between maritime stakeholders,” it added.
With over 200 participants and regional groupings participating in the exercise, the statement said it was being conducted in multiple areas at sea and ashore adding that all exercise scenarios was coordinated in the Exercise Control Group (ECG) centre at Lagos, Nigeria.
It said numerous maritime operation centres were also participating ashore from across the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa with several international organisations.
According to the statement, a command post exercise was held from January 23 to 27 January at the Naval Headquarters, Naval Training Command, Western and Eastern Naval Commands and Ghana’s Territorial Waters.
It said field training exercise which commenced on January 28 was still ongoing and some of the exercise scenarios include anti-piracy, armed smuggling, oil spillage management, anti-narcotics, anti-human trafficking and illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
Participating countries include Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark and Equatorial Guinea.
Others were France, Gambia, Ghana, Germany, Guinea (Conakry), Liberia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Morocco, Poland and Portugal.
The rest were Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo and the United States of America. Also participating in the exercise included the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States.