USS SIMPSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) completed two days of participation for Exercise Obangame Express 2012, Feb. 29.
Obangame Express is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
For its part in Obangame Express, Simpson acted as a boarding vessel with role players and trainers for teams from five countries - Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, and Spain.
"Overall the teams did a decent job," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Gary Morrison, who acted as a ship's captain when teams from African nations came aboard. "They'll get even better with more training, more exercises like Obangame Express."
Lt. j.g. Yves Itondo, from the Cameroonian navy, and his team was the first of five teams that boarded Simpson during its two days of participation.
"Obangame Express is a good exercise because any time my team has a chance to see the configuration of a different vessel, we discover new things," said Lt. j.g. Yves Itondo. "Each boarding is different and each time we can improve the tactical improvements of our team. Obangame Express permits cooperation and exchange between our navies."
Simpson also sent its boarding team to a Nigerian navy vessel, the patrol cutter NNS Nwamba (A 503), two different times to practice boarding techniques while other Sailors, both officer and enlisted, visited six ships for training with respective counterparts in their job area.
Lt. j.g. Jude Ezedike, Simpson's auxiliaries officer, visited the Nigerian navy's newest vessel, the Hamilton-class frigate, NNS Thunder (F 90), where he helped explain detect to engage (DTE) procedures.
"DTE gives guidelines on what to do if a helicopter or low flying aircraft with possible hostile intentions comes too close to your vessel," said Lt. j.g. Jude Ezedike. "We did a walkthrough, the training went well with a lot of cooperation."
Ezedike, who was born and raised in Nigeria and later emmigrated to the States, also said he believes strongly in the importance of Obangame Express.
"Personally, I have prayed for this kind of naval interaction between the U.S. and Nigeria for a long time," said Lt. j.g. Jude Ezedike. "Obangame Express helps Nigeria and the rest of West Africa defend their coast and control issues like piracy, kidnapping, drugs and irregular fishing."
Also during its participation, Simpson helped coordinate ship formations and maneuvering with other countries' vessels through tactical communication drills relayed from its pilot house.
"Any time there is an opportunity to teach, you end up learning something as well," said Cmdr. Leonard Miliken, Simpson's commanding officer. "Obangame Express was a great opportunity for all participants and I expect next year's exercise to be even better."
Simpson, homeported out of Mayport, Fla. is currently conducting theater security cooperation and maritime security operations in the Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility.
Prior to its participation in Exercise Obangame Express 2012, Simpson completed port visits in Lagos, Nigeria and Tema, Ghana in support of Africa Partnership Station West, an international security cooperation initiative facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
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