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US Navy Vessel to train Gambian Navy Officers

Sep 13, 2011, 1:24 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

A team of United States navy officers on board US HSV-2 SWIFT HSV Swift (HSV 2) has docked at the Banjul seaport as part of its Africa Partnership Station (APS) to conduct a two-week intensive training for Gambian navy personnel and other security outfits in a bid to strengthen maritime security.

The visit to The Gambia by the latest US vessel is the final stop after a series of port visits in the Gulf of Guinea to support training engagements in support of APS, after completing APS training engagements with naval forces from Nigeria, Ghana and Benin.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities, in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

During its stay in the country, the vessel will host instructional courses for Gambian naval forces in the subjects of maritime intelligence, non-commissioned officer leadership, basic instructors training to be taught by instructors from U.S. Naval Forces. This will be followed by a two-week small-boat hull maintenance course to be taught at the Gambia Navy base.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Cynthia F. Gregg, charge d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Banjul, said The Gambia like many other countries is facing maritime threats from illegal fishing boats, narco trafficking and trafficking in persons.

According to the US diplomat, the importance of security cannot be overemphasized, especially at sea.

“The US navy is here to help The Gambia in protecting against maritime security threats,” she said, while urging the beneficiaries to share the knowledge with the rest of their colleagues.

Noting that The Gambia has already developed what she called a very fine and professional relationship with the US, Gregg assured the Gambia that with hard work, APS 2012 will also be in The Gambia.

Lt commander Charles E Eaton, officer in charge of the vessel, said the African Partnership Station is an international initiative geared towards building relationships that will improve maritime security.

“As APS enters its fourth year, maritime partners continue a mission that has grown to bring together 34 Africans, Europeans and South American countries,” he stated.

According to him, APS is motivated by the belief that effective maritime security and safety will contribute to the development, economic prosperity and security within Africa.

“We have seen great motivation and professionalism in the Gambian navy. We will continue to help the Gambian navy in training in order to ensure safety at sea,” he added.

Lt John Repik, team leader to The Gambia, expressed the hope that the training will help the Gambian navy.

“APS is a multilateral effort with 34 nations participating working together to build a more secure maritime security environment along the coast of Africa. We are here to develop a security partnership with Gambian security staff,” Repik said.

The Chief of Defense Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, Lt. General Massaneh Kinteh, in his speech recalled the support that US government and other international partners offered towards improving maritime safety and security in Africa, as part of the US Africa command’s security cooperation program.

“The African region like The Gambia requires constant maritime sea going naval assets, maritime legislation and institutions to better regulate the fishing industry, policing and prosecution of illegal acts,” Kinteh added.

Lt. General Kinteh also recalled that the overall goal of the APS programme series is to build skills, expertise and professionalism of African military forces, the coast guards and marines.

He stated that The Gambia is significantly challenged in enforcing the rule of law beyond its territorial waters to combat illegal fishing, human smuggling and drug trafficking.

Commodore Madani Senghore, Commander of the Gambia Navy said the training is mainly geared towards enhancing maritime security, and security through partnership.