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US Ambassador Extends Support to Naval Command

May 2, 2008, 7:59 AM

The Ambassador of the United States of America to The Gambia, Barry Wells, on Wednesday, 30th April 2008, presented a Maritime Safety and Security Information System (MSSIS) as well as a Solar Power System worth over $20,000 to the Gambia Navy.

MSSIS is an unclassified computer network system that provides the ability for any country in the area of responsibility to connect and become a contributing data-sharing partner with their neighbours, their region and the United States.

The objective of the new network is to assist and provide emerging partners with capability to detect, track, identify, display and share information on co-operative merchant vessels to enable maritime security and safety operations.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony held at the Naval Command Headquarters in Banjul, Ambassador Wells said the project, developed and implemented by the United States Department of Transportation, will help countries like The Gambia better control their maritime territory.This, he added, includes the area of illegal fishing, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, environmental pollution, oil theft, terrorism and piracy.

"As we speak now, The Gambia is connected to the MSSIS network and is ready to go. Fifteen other African nations are also connected to the MSSIS network as are over 45 countries around the world," he noted.

According to the US diplomat, The Automatic Identification System installed for the Gambia Navy three months ago, is secured, protected, and complies with International Maritime Organisation guidelines, prohibiting its public publication to the world-wide web.

Also speaking on the occasion, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Major Ganeral Lang Tombong Tamba, described the gesture as one of the packages that the Gambia Armed Forces benefited from the government of the United States.

"As we are all aware, the world today is faced with a lot of challenges on dealing with terrorism and its related problems of which The Gambia is no exception," he said. General Tamba acknowledged the contribution of the United States government towards this project.