DOUALA, Cameroon (NNS) -- Exercise Obangame Express 2013 (OE-13), an at-sea naval exercise focused on counter-piracy and maritime security operations wrapped up in the Gulf of Guinea, Feb. 28.
OE-13 provided African, European and Atlantic partner maritime services the opportunity to work together, share information and refine methods in order to help Gulf of Guinea maritime nations better monitor and enforce their territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
"Over the past week, the participants in this exercise conducted training which improved the interoperability between maritime forces of the participating nations, as well as the skills of individual Sailors," said Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander, United States Africa Command. "Maritime partnerships and maritime security and safety are increasingly important in the Gulf of Guinea region to combat a variety of challenges including maritime crime, illicit trafficking and piracy."
The exercise included a wide variety of training for all participating forces including at-sea ship boarding and queries, air operations, communication drills and regional information sharing.
"Obangame Express helps promote relationships between nations to combat these illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea," said Capt. Dave Rollo, U.S. exercise director for OE-13. "These acts of piracy are not just an American problem. They are not just a Cameroonian problem; They're a global problem."
"Our naval forces must effectively strengthen the intervention capacity, using maritime surveillance systems and reliable equipment," said Mebe Ngo'o Edgard Alain, Cameroonian minister delegate of the presidency in charge of defence. "The required harmonization of operational procedures of multinational players involved in securing the Gulf of Guinea guarantees the effectiveness of our naval forces in maintaining maritime security and safety.
"Maritime security is a pre-requisite for attracting investment, promoting trade and continuing economic development," said Alain. "These things guarantee an improved quality of life for our citizens."
Participating countries in this year's exercise were Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivorie, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Spain, Togo and the United States.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.