NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Sailors and coast guardsmen from several African nations are gathered in Lagos, Nigeria, to participate in the start of Africa Partnership Station 2012 (APS), Feb. 14.
APS is part of an ongoing international effort to assist African nations to improve maritime safety and security. The security cooperation initiative, now in its fifth year, is aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
This year's program builds upon relationships fostered in previous years and brings together more than 30 African, European, North and South American countries.
"By working together, African navies and coast guards are able to bring maritime safety and security which will help secure their future," said Chief Warrant Officer Eve McAnallen, APS training officer.
USS Simpson (FFG 56) arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, to launch this year's training program. While in port, Simpson's crew will work with Nigerian sailors and coast guardsmen, and with crews from 11 other African nations participating in the first leg of training events.
"It's a great way to start APS," said Cmdr. Leonard Milliken, Simpson's commanding officer. "APS is an important mission because it helps growing navies and coast guards in Africa conduct maritime operations."
Bringing these nations together for specifically tailored training events, both ashore and at sea, allow African maritime nations to improve their capabilities while strengthening relationships with partner nations. APS also allows African maritime nations to bolster regional maritime safety and security throughout the maritime environment in three specific areas: counter-piracy, illicit trafficking, and energy and resource security.
Through a regional, comprehensive approach, APS helps African nations build their own maritime domain awareness, create maritime professionals, build required maritime infrastructure, and improve response capabilities in the maritime environment. The common belief among participating nations is that APS contributes to development, economic prosperity and security within Africa.
"I really appreciate the APS program because it helps us improve and meet our potential through different experiences," said Gabonese Chief Petty Officer Pierre Mboulou. "I hope this program can be held every year and keep going to help African militaries."
APS brings together African partners, allowing them to focus on common security challenges.
"By working together, African navies and coast guards are able to improve maritime safety and security which will help secure their future," Chief Warrant Officer McAnallen said.
Simpson's visit to Lagos is one example of how APS works to bring regional partners together to share and learn specialty skills. Experts will use practical, classroom, and sometimes real-world events to help build African navies professional skill to combat crime at sea.
APS is about developing African solutions to global problems and building upon long-standing relationships. African, European, and North and South American partners, and non-governmental organizations share a common goal of regional prosperity, stability, and peace. APS helps to create partnerships among a number of organizations who have not traditionally worked with each other in the past to achieve common goals through collaboration.
Following this visit, Simpson will continue APS engagements in the Gulf of Guinea. Later in the year, the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and the High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) will deploy in support of APS.
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For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.