Apr 29, 2011, 2:41 PM
A team of United States Coast Guards on board US Coast Guard cutter forward ship arrived and docked at the Banjul seaport as part of the vessel’s tour of West Africa.
The team, expected to be in Banjul for a week, will among other things train personnel of the Gambia Navy in Banjul.
A 270-foot medium endurance cutter ported in Portsmouth, the cutter’s mission includes migrants and drug interdiction, search and rescue, law enforcement, hurricane response and foreign aid and relief.
Being the first American vessel to arrive in Haiti when an earthquake struck the country, the mission also seeks to increase resident host nation’s capabilities by working with their African partners to ensure a prosperous maritime environment, and foster a strong relationship.
Speaking at a welcome reception hosted by the US Embassy in Banjul at the seaport in Banjul, Michael Stewart said their mission, which is “ever the sentinel” described their duty to stand as vigilant lookouts for those intending to harm the United States.
“As ambassadors for the United States and the United States Coast Guards, we will demonstrate what it means to be a maritime guardian in words and deeds. We will live by the Coast Guards core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty both on and off duty,” he told the gathering at the reception.
According to him, the US like any other country has challenges of maritime security, to which its government attaches great importance.
“Security of the seas is important and impacts on us all,” he added.
He stated that building maritime security and safety is a major focus of efforts in Africa, noting that successful efforts will contribute to the economic development, prosperity, and security on and off shore in their partner nations.
The US Ambassador to The Gambia, Pamela Ann White, in her speech reminded the gathering of the good bilateral ties between Banjul and Washington, noting that The Gambia though small, is an important state in Africa.
“The military is all about peace, and The Gambia is a stable country with very nice people,” she said, while underscoring the importance of professionalism in the military.