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By Photojournalist Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC 910) departed Lagos, Nigeria, following a scheduled port visit, March 22, 2019.
The port visit to Lagos, conducted in conjunction with exercise Obangame Express 2019 (OE19), reinforces the strengthening ties between the United States and Nigeria.
“The Coast Guard Cutter Thetis is the first cutter to participate in African maritime exercises [such as Obangame Express] since 2011,” said Cmdr. Randall Chong, commanding officer of Thetis. “We hope to use our collective knowledge through these exercises to help build, strengthen and continue the relationships between our services. Protecting our maritime interests and bolstering security cannot be done alone; it is a team effort.”
A few members of the crew had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Consulate building during the port visit. Thetis also hosted a shipboard reception for OE19, March 21. Attendees included U.S. Navy Admiral James G. Foggo, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa, Nigerian Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, head of the Nigerian Navy, Consulate General John Gray, senior U.S. Department of State representative in Nigeria, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Todd Sokalzuk, deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, and other dignitaries from the United States and West African maritime nations.
While in theater, Thetis is conducting training with African partners on maritime law enforcement to include boarding tactics and techniques to assist them in combatting illegal fishing, trafficking of humans and narcotics, maritime piracy, and environmental pollution.
Obangame Express is an annual exercise designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.
Thetis is homeported in Key West, Florida, and is a 270-foot Famous-class medium endurance cutter that specializes in maritime law enforcement operations, specifically counter-narcotics and alien migrant smuggling, and search and rescue operations.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquarted in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.