By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
The U.S. Coast Guard, Nigerian Navy, and Cabo Verdean Coast Guard conducted joint maritime law enforcement operations as part of Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) 2019 in the Gulf of Guinea, April 9-May 2, 2019.
AMPLEP is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet-facilitated initiative that aims to enhance the maritime enforcement capabilities of African partners in order to improve management and security of the maritime domain. A safe and secure maritime environment is necessary for local economies to flourish and is essential to the overall quality of life for a country’s citizens.
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC 910) and U.S. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) South partnered with Nigerian Navy Special Boat Services for the first half of the operational phase of AMLEP. U.S. Coast Guardsmen and Nigerian Sailors were paired to form teams to execute boardings of vessels suspected of engaging in illicit activity and enforce Nigerian laws and regulations.
“Due to the overall work between my crew and our Nigerian Navy partners, we were able to share best practices and maritime knowledge with each other,” said Cmdr. Randall Chong, commanding officer of Thetis. “The economic activity in the region relies on safe and lawful use of maritime space, which makes maritime security critical to economic development and sustainment.”
During the second half of the operational phase, Thetis crew members, TACLET South members, and the Cabo Verdean Coast Guard teamed up to execute boardings of vessels in Cabo Verde’s waters suspected of conducting illegal activities and to enforce Cabo Verdean laws and regulations.
“During the joint operations for AMLEP 2019, we were able to ensure our foreign naval partners are able to respond to maritime incidents with the appropriate tools and abilities,” said Chong.
A strong maritime presence is critical to ensuring local fisheries are protected and commercial shipping lanes stay open to sustain global commerce. The operational phases of the AMLEP program reinforce the skill sets developed as part of the annual Africa Partnership Station exercises in a real-world operation and improves the detection, boarding, and law enforcement activities that are necessary for maritime security.
The AMLEP end goal is for an African partner nation to be able to conduct law enforcement operations independently of U.S. efforts and effectively address ever-changing maritime threats including illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, illicit trafficking, and piracy.
Thetis is a 270-foot Famous-Class Medium-Endurance Cutter homeported in Key West, Florida, specializing in maritime law enforcement operations, specifically counter-narcotics and alien migrant smuggling, and search and rescue operations. Thetis is the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter to support and deploy to U.S. Africa Command since 2012.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered 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.