The largest multinational maritime exercise in West and Central Africa, Exercise Obangame Express 2023, will begin its 12th year with 29 participating countries at an opening ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on January 23, 2023.

Conducted by the United States Naval Forces in Africa and sponsored by the United States Africa Command, SO23 is designed to enhance regional cooperation, information sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance collective capabilities. of participating nations to counter illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing and other illicit activities at sea, the US Navy press office says in a statement.

According to the statement, AFRICOM helps African partners to protect their maritime economy to ensure the continued sustainable use of maritime resources and enable the security and stability of global maritime trade.

SO23, one of three NAVAF-facilitated regional exercises, provides collaborative opportunities for U.S. and African forces and international partners to address shared transnational maritime concerns. NAVAF’s ongoing maritime security cooperation with African partners focuses on maritime security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities and infrastructure, the statement said.

“Exercise Obangame Express 23 provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation and share tactics, techniques and procedures to deter transnational maritime security challenges,” said Rear Adm. Chase Patrick, NAVAF Maritime Headquarters Director. “Together, we are creating a safer, more secure and economically prosperous maritime environment for the coastal nations of Africa and the global community.”

Nigeria will host this year’s exercise in Lagos. The exercise will also feature multiple training events at sea and on land throughout the Gulf of Guinea and South Atlantic Ocean, including exchanges on boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, casualty medical response, radio communication, and technical information management, the statement said.

The 29 nations scheduled to participate in SO23 include Angola, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco , Namibia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the United States. The Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States will also participate.

The statement notes that for more than 80 years, the US Naval Forces in Europe and the US Naval Forces in Africa have forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values ​​to preserve security. and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates US naval forces in the areas of responsibility of US European Command and US Africa Command. US 6th Fleet. it is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces across the spectrum of joint and naval operations, the statement concluded.