LUANDA, Angola (NNS) -- U.S. 6th Fleet commander arrived in Luanda, Angola, July 9, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Angolan navy during a five-day visit to Africa.
Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, was present for the ceremony, which commemorated the Angolan navy's 35 years of service and was followed by an anti-terrorism demonstration that displayed the navy's ability to protect its borders from the air, land, and sea.
During the celebration, Angolan officials commented on the role of the navy during their civil war from 1976-2003 and its current role in the Angolan military.
"During the war years, the focus was on the land and in the air," said Vice Adm. Mendes Caravalho, Angolan Minister of Defense Foreign Liaison Officer. "Now the focus is on security at sea."
Angolan officials also commented on the changing role of the Angolan navy.
"We are transforming our navy from a wartime to a peaceful navy," said Rear Adm. Caetano Neto, director for Maintenance and Logistics for the Angolan navy. "Now we are focusing on the emerging challenges of piracy and security in the maritime environment."
With the new focus on securing the increasingly important maritime environment, Harris explained the importance of strengthening the bonds between the two maritime countries.
"We are concerned about the security in the Gulf of Guinea and the South Atlantic, and we are working with the Angolan navy to strengthen that security in this vital region of the world," said Harris. "We have many shared interests with the Angolan navy and hope to strengthen our partnership in the near future."
The Angolan navy is also looking to strengthen ties and increase opportunities with the U.S. Navy. Harris commented on the willingness of the U.S. Navy and more directly, U.S. 6th Fleet, to see this partnership grow.
"I look forward to helping build this important relationship with the Angolan navy," said Harris. "As a strategic partner with the U.S., there are many areas were we can work together in the future."
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.