By Mass Communication Specialist First Class Debra Thomas U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet Pubic Affairs
Allied and partner navies participating in exercise Phoenix Express 2021 got underway from Tunis, Tunisia, for the start of the at-sea portion of the multinational North African maritime exercise in the Mediterranean Sea on May 22, 2021.
“The at sea portion of Phoenix Express is five days long and involves seven partner nation ships and an aircraft,” said Captain Harry Knight, exercise director for Phoenix Express 2021. “The objective is to improve cooperation and interoperability during at-sea maritime interdiction operations.”
The ships included the Algerian National Navy frigate El Moudamir (F911), Egyptian Navy frigate Toushka (F906), Royal Moroccan Navy multi-mission frigate Sultan Moulay Ismail (FF 614), and the Spanish Navy patrol boat ESPS Centinela (P72). The vessels joined the U.S. expeditionary sea base, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4), as well as Tunisian vessels including their multi service offshore patrol vessel Syphax (P 611).
The exercise focuses on maritime security operations, to include ship boarding, airborne maritime patrol operations, and search and rescue drills. In addition, maritime operations center watch teams conduct communication drills and practice regional information sharing.
“We are counting on our partnerships and our friendships, cooperation is no longer a choice, it is compulsory for nations to share information and share experience,” said Senior Captain Jamel Ben Omrane of the Tunisian Navy. “In this way we will provide a safe maritime environment for all mariners passing through our waters.”
The exercise provides North African, European, and U.S. maritime forces the opportunity to work together, share information, and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures in order to promote maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three regional maritime exercises executed by U.S. Naval Forces Africa as part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African forces and international partners that addresses maritime security concerns.
The U.S. Navy remains operational during COVID-19, following all COVID-19 safety precautions and regulations
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.