The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo has called on navies within the continent to come together to fight maritime crimes, particularly sea piracy, especially as no one navy can do it alone.
Admiral Gambo spoke while closing the 2023 edition of the multinational maritime exercise code-named Obangame Express, saying that the magnitude of maritime threat demands that navies come together to tackle it.
The Naval Chief said that collaborations exhibited during the exercise, should be sustained to enable the building of a strong force against all manner of security threats at sea.
He emphasised that no single navy or coast guard could take on the responsibility of policing the vast waters of the region and record the kind of success that is being achieved and sustained through the joint efforts of the multinational navies.
The CNS said the exercise also exposed distinct salient points and critical observations, which are relevant and valuable towards improving future exercises, adding that “Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2023 did not only bring us together, it created the environment to improve competencies by relating with one another, which to me is the secret of great success.
While appreciating the participating nations for their support and making the exercise a success, Admiral Gambo said that their support in the exercise would encourage and bolster regional cooperation and collaboration.
Exercise Obangame which started in 2010 was conducted under the watch of the United States Africa Command and was initiated to boost security at the Gulf of Guinea through joint security sea exercise.
The exercise involved simulations and drills covering areas of threats such as a piracy attacks, human trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing), illegal bunkering, illegal arms dealing, and trafficking in drugs among others.
As scheduled, the week-long sea exercise which involved 33 countries, with the Nigerian Navy deploying 10 combat vessels. two helicopters and other naval assets to ensure the success of the exercise
The Nigerian Navy was hosting the event for the third time and the Chief of Naval Staff said observations by the observers were apt, and relevant and that, lessons have been learnt, affirming that the objectives of the exercise have been achieved.
He commended the commitment of the navies and United States Coast Guards for sustaining the maritime architecture in the Gulf of Guinea, and sustaining capacity through the facilities in the training centre in Lagos.
He particularly thanked the U.S. and Spain for dispatching ships for the exercise, and appreciated officers and men of the Nigerian Navy too.
Earlier, the Flag Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral YB Wambai, said that exercise Obangeme 2023 was independently monitored by chief observers for the Naval Doctrine Command of the Nigerian Navy that were onboard the vessels, and the exercise control group comprising of personnel from the Gulf of Guinea nations, as well as other partner nations that where indicated in the control group in the Naval Dockyard.
“The exercise was independently monitored by a team of observers from the naval doctrine command of the Nigerian navy who were onboard, and the exercise control group comprising personnel from the gulf of guinea nations as well as other partner nations that were located in the control room here in the naval dockyard.
“The debrief would afford us the opportunity to understand how the task group fared at sea in terms of accomplishment of the exercise , it will also give us the needed guidance in terms of future exercises,” Wambai said.
Commentary on the exercise confirmed that the task group was involved in various exercises across the spectrum of maritime threats that are encountered constantly at sea. These exercises were conducted in line with the extant conventions and procedures with a view to achieving set goals objectives.
The task group carried out exercise against human trafficking, illegal unreported unregulated fishing (IUU fishing), illegal oil bunkering, communication exercises, simulated fire fighting, arms and drug smuggling, and anti-piracy exercises, until all participating ships returned to harbour for the evaluation of the week-long sea exercise.
Part of observation report described a scenario created to check human trafficking and the training objectives included the test for effective communication with the western regional control centre for ‘Falcon Eye’, test information and intelligence sharing between regional control centres and ships at sea, test for search and determine how to make judgement, and test collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force and the Interpol.
The following nations participated in the exercise; Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, The Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, and the United States. Also participating will be the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).