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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Africa Partnership Station concludes collaborative engagement in Gabon
Mayumba, Gabon - High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) departed Feb. 27, following a three-day visit and 10-day Africa Partnership Station (APS) mission to support improved Maritime Domain Awareness in the Mayumba area, including Mayumba National Park, a 350 square mile marine protected area on the Gabon/Congo border.
The non-governmental organization Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) helped identify potential partners for the collaborative effort.
During the engagement, a five-man Expeditionary Training Command (ETC) team made repairs to a Gabonese Navy patrol craft and provided classroom and practical instruction in engine maintenance, boat handling, and navigation topics.
The training audience included not only the Gabonese Navy, but the Fisheries Department, the Merchant Navy, staff of Mayumba National Park, and the boat crew of WCS - all of whom have a role in fisheries surveillance and/or enforcement efforts in the area.
"This engagement gave us an opportunity to work directly with a variety of stakeholders who are protecting maritime interests," said NAvy Capt. John Nowell, the APS commander. "The situation in Mayumba is a microcosm of the larger maritime security environment, where multiple organizations are working toward common goals."
The ETC team went ashore during a brief stop here Feb. 18, and was also joined by Dr. Augustus Vogel from the office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, and by an APS Meteorological and Oceanography liaison officer, who conducted site surveys in support of potential future meteorological and oceanographic activities.
"We had folks from all kinds of organizations working together," said Vogel, who focused on identifying strategies for creating a persistent relationship with Mayumba.
The maintenance management course conducted by ETC included instruction on establishing a routine preventative maintenance program for the Gabonese Navy patrol boat, as well as detailed information on maintenance requirements for their particular model, according to Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Robert Hewitt, the ETC team leader for the mission.
The basic small boat and navigation course focused on boat crew responsibilities, boat handling and navigation skills, as well as operations entering and exiting a lagoon mouth in surf conditions and coming alongside other vessels.
"Our goal was to improve the capabilities of our training audience and ultimately their organizations' ability to execute missions on the water," Hewitt said.
In conjunction with the training ashore, Electronics Technician 1st Class Joe Wilson of Swift assisted with the installation of a navigational radar system in Mayumba which will be used to locate illegal industrial fishing vessels that threaten the local small-scale fishery. By the following evening, the system had already been used to track the progress of an illegal trawler through the area.
"We now understand how to install these radar units much more effectively," said Dr. Richard Parnell, director of the WCS project in Mayumba. "Radar is becoming a vital tool for surveillance within and outside of Gabon's protected areas, and will greatly help the authorities to plan and execute future boat missions."
Simultaneous to these many activities, a team sent here by Naval Forces Europe and Africa installed an Automatic Identification System (AIS) antenna for the Gabonese Navy. Afterwards, Dr. Vogel showed local government officials and staff several vessels implicated in Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and identified by the AIS data to be working in the Gulf of Guinea region.
"We are very excited about the support," Parnell said. "Combined with efforts to expand the number of surveillance missions in the area, we expect the authorities to be making a serious dent in illegal fishing activity."
Gabon's Chief of Naval Forces Capt. Paul Bivig Nziengui flew to Mayumba from his headquarters in Libreville during the engagement to witness the training and interact with the various organizations taking part. He expressed his appreciation for the training effort and embarked Swift for the overnight transit back to Libreville at the completion of the visit.
Africa Partnership Station is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multi-national staff aboard Swift and amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) to promote maritime safety and security. During its deployment, Swift will work with various government and non-government organizations to support ongoing regional meteorological and oceanography initiatives, host fisheries training events, and deliver humanitarian aid to African nations.
Overseen by a joint staff representing navies of eight European, African and North American countries, APS ships are visiting ports in Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe, Togo and other African countries to conduct training, complete humanitarian projects and build partnerships among participating nations.
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Issues/Monitoring, control and surveillance