By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman
The Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) departed Tema, Ghana, July 26, 2019, after completing a scheduled port visit in support of its 2019 Africa Partnership Station (APS) deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
The ship’s arrival to Sekondi on July 21, and Tema on July 24, coincided with the 60th birthday of Ghana’s navy on July 29.
Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, visited the country July 22-24, to attend the International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference where he met with the Ghanaian minister of defense, chief of defense and chief of naval staff to discuss maritime security and cooperation; as well future exercises and engagements in the Gulf of Guinea. Foggo visited Carson City to address the crew in Sekondi on July 23, following a tour of the naval base and tours of Ghanaian and Nigerian navy ships.
“You all have just knocked the ball out of the park,” said Foggo. “I got rave reviews of your work in Dakar, Senegal, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and talking to Sailors who are working with Ghanaian sailors on the pier here. You’re building relationships, friendships and partnerships, and trying to help out with some of the small boat maintenance and training. And that was the vision for this deployment.”
The embarked military detachment aboard Carson City visited Western Naval Command in Sekondi and Eastern Naval Command in Tema. There, the crew participated in military-to-military engagements which included small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement scenarios on visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) and tactical combat casualty care, medical exchanges at clinics and onboard the ship, and multiple performances by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside.
“It’s been and honor and a privilege to work alongside the different African VBSS teams in each country we visit,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Chad Vacco. “Their training and operational expertise has been exemplary and has increased our own working knowledge, as we’ve exchanged information and best practices for multiple mission subsets, including both compliant and non-compliant boardings, to include counter-drug and anti-piracy.
The teams we’ve interacted with have demonstrated the utmost professionalism, and I look forward to the U.S. Coast Guard and partner organizations working together again in the future,” said Vacco.
Additionally, over 20 Carson City Sailors, accompanied by U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band, Topside, conducted a community relations event with Mothers Union, a charity organization that serves underprivileged children at St. John's Anglican Primary School. After several rounds of musical chairs, sack races and other activities for the children, Capt. Herbert Griffin, force chaplain of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, presented various donated supplies, toys and sports equipment to Eudora Korsah, the charity’s director.
The visit concluded with a reception held on the flight deck of Carson City attended by distinguished guests, Ghanaian military and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan, who delivered remarks alongside Ghana’s deputy minister of defense.
“The United States is pleased to partner with African countries in supporting their security priorities alongside our own priorities of increasing trade and enterprise-driven development, improving regional security and promoting good governance,” said Sullivan. “Protecting the freedom and safety of maritime trade contributes to stability and economic prosperity and underpins efforts to strengthen democracy and deliver services to citizens. The United States considers it a priority to partner with nations that share our values.”
Sullivan said that security cooperation promotes the observance of these shared values. “We understand that the first job of security forces is to protect their population, while also meriting the confidence of their fellow citizens. The men and women entrusted with a nation's defense must be dedicated stewards of the people.”
Carson City is currently deployed to the Gulf of Guinea to demonstrate progress through partnerships and U.S. commitment to West African countries through small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement engagement, and medical and community relations outreach.
APS is U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s flagship maritime security cooperation program focusing on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure. It consists of the various exercises and operations conducted by U.S., European, and African partners and allies throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/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 and security and stability in Europe and Africa.