By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs
Maritime forces from Europe, North Africa, and the United States began the 16th iteration of the multinational maritime exercise Phoenix Express 2021 (PE21) with an opening ceremony held at the National Center for Cartography and Remote Sensing Amphitheater in El Aouina, Tunisia, May 18, 2021.
“Phoenix Express is about strengthening our friendships and our partnerships in this critical region,” said Admiral Robert P. Burke, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “The Mediterranean is the life blood of global trade, regional security and stability is crucial for global prosperity. We are all united in our pursuit of a common good, maritime security.”
Phoenix Express, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) is designed to improve regional cooperation, increase maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities in order to enhance efforts to promote safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
This year’s exercise control group is hosted by Tunisia with training taking place throughout the Mediterranean Sea, to include territorial waters of participating North African nations. The at-sea portion of the exercise will test North African, European, and U.S. maritime forces’ abilities to respond to irregular migration and combat illicit trafficking and the movement of illegal goods and materials.
"It’s always appropriate to stress the importance of the collaborative approach to meet the shared goals of a safe and secured Mediterranean Sea, therefore I thank all participant nations for their tremendous effort to participate in PE 21, despite the global pandemic and for their resolve to support peace and stability in the Mediterranean Region. I especially thank the U.S. Navy, AFRICOM, the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, particularly the Office of Security Cooperation and the Defence Attaché Office for their efforts and commitment to make this important event happen." said Commodore Mohamed salah SAGAAMA, Tunisian Navy deputy chief of staff for naval operations.
The thirteen nations scheduled to participate in PE21 are Algeria, Belgium, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, and the United States.
Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three regional maritime exercises executed by NAVAF as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African forces and international partners that addresses maritime security concerns.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth 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.