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NEWS | March 19, 2021

Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe - Africa visits Accra for Obangame Express 2021 Opening Ceremony

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV

Adm. Robert P. Burke, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Commander, Allied Joint Force Command, Naples, delivered remarks during the opening ceremony for Obangame Express 2021 in Accra, Ghana, March 19, 2021. 

“Maritime security is a team sport. Working together, we’re creating a safer and more secure maritime environment,” Burke said. “That ultimately means greater economic prosperity for African nations and the global community.”

Additional speakers included Chief of Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Vice Adm. Seth Amoama, Ghana Chief of Navy Staff, Rear Adm. Issah Yakubu, and the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Stephanie S. Sullivan. 

“It’s truly impressive to see what has been accomplished, despite so much adversity. I think that’s a real testament to the innovation and dedication of the team, and the strength of our partnerships,” Burke said. “What Obangame Express is really about though, is learning from each other and working together. It is a necessary step to ensure interoperability between maritime partners.”

Amoama said the Gulf of Guinea has reported 18 maritime incidents since the beginning of the year. 

“These challenges threaten not only the economies of the countries in the Gulf of Guinea, but also global trade and economic security,” Amoama said. “The exercise continues to grow [which] has been demonstrated over the past years. I am therefore hopeful that the 2021 edition will be even more successful.”  

Burke’s visit to Ghana follows on U.S. Army General Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command’s two-day visit to Ghana, Feb. 23-24. Townsend met with several Ghanaian leaders, including President Nana Akufo-Addo; Chief of Defense Staff, including both current and immediate past Chiefs of Defense Staff Rear Admiral Seth Amoama and Lieutenant General Obed Akwa, respectively; Minister of Defense, the Honorable Dominic Nitiwul; and other senior members of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Obangame Express 2021 takes place from March 14-27, 2021. The 32 nations participating this year includes Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Togo, and the United States. Also participating will be the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).