NEWS | April 8, 2019

Phoenix Express Kicks Off Premiere Port Exercise in Africa

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Drew Verbis

Maritime forces from Europe, North Africa, and the United States participated in the first ever Port Exercise (PORTEX) in Casablanca, Morocco 5 April, during Phoenix Express 2019.

PORTEX, hosted by the Royal Moroccan Navy at the Royal Moroccan Naval Simulation and Training Center, simulated a Counterproliferation (CP) Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) and included participation from the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the FAR USS Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Company.

“The scenario started after a simulated suspicious vessel was interdicted north of Morocco and the ships crew provided inconsistent information to the Royal Moroccan Navy MIO team,” said CDR James Imlah, Deputy Commander, Task Force 67 (CTF 67) “We were able to observe the different divisions working together to resolve an extremely difficult CBRN-E (Enhanced) scenario.”

Towards the end of the scenario the MIO team found simulated suspicious chemicals, which broke during the offload onto the pier.

“It was an interesting experience,” said Lt. Margo Cortex, CTF 67 Planning Officer. “We were given coveralls, booties, gloves and had assigned roles to play. I was given the role of walking wounded who had been exposed to the chemicals.

The walking wounded were then taken through the entire decontamination process.

“Overall, a very cold, but fun experience as the DECON team and assisting medical staff were very professional,” said Cortex.

Nations who participated in Phoenix Express 2019 included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Phoenix Express, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, is designed to improve regional cooperation, increase maritime domain awareness information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities to enhance efforts to achieve safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.