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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2022

Seabees Renew Maritime Connections in Sao Tome and Principe

By CWO5 Chris Vollmer, CTF 68 Public Affairs

The U.S. Embassy Office of Security Cooperation and engineers assigned to U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force Six Eight (CTF 68) attended the 47th annual Sao Tome Armed Forces Day celebration, Sept. 6, 2022.

The U.S. team met with the Honorable Carlos Vila Nova, President of Sao Tome and Principe and built relationships with top senior leaders from the Armed Forces of São Tomé and Príncipe (FASTP).  During the visit, U.S. engineers also conducted site assessments in preparation for future bi-lateral construction projects in Sao Tome. 

While in Sao Tome, U.S. engineers also conducted multiple site visits for potential projects, logistics planning, capability assessments with the Sao Tome Army Engineer Company, and project estimates for improvements to the Sao Tome Coast Guard facility. The Sao Tome Coast Guard base routinely works with U.S. engineers, who are rotationally deployed to Africa in support of CTF 68.

“I first worked with the Sao Tome Coast Guard back in 2007 to construct the existing boat ramp,” said Dave Young, engineering planner at 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (22 NCR). “The project was successful because of the great support and relationship with the Sao Tome Coast Guard.”

Due to time, exposure to heavy seas, and the increase in patrol boat size, the causeway and boat ramp that was constructed by the Seabees in 2007 requires additional maintenance and repairs. In coordination with the Department of State, and Office of Regional Peace and Security, this project will increase the Sao Tome Coast Guard’s capability of conducting maritime interdiction and security operations in the Gulf of Guinea.

“We need to be constantly working to improve our capabilities and remain adaptive to the situation,” said 1st Lt. Xlitton Fome, Training Officer in the Sao Tome Coast Guard. “I started off in the Sao Tome Army, but when the Coast Guard needed more officers to help them grow in size, I converted over to the Coast Guard.”

U.S. naval engineers share a proud history with the Sao Tome Army Engineer Company since their commissioning in 2015, including providing engineering support to all branches of the FASTP.  

“Seabees always work with partner nation military engineers when doing projects like this in another country” said Chief Builder Gabriel Miller, 22 Naval Construction Regiment. “This is the most rewarding part of the work that we do on deployment and I am looking forward to working with my new friends in Sao Tome.”

The team of engineers also visited the Sao Tome Regional Hospital to assess the potential needs and feasibility of completing small-scale facility enhancements, including additional wheelchair ramps to the buildings.

22 NCR provide command and control of Naval Construction Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility in direct support of CTF 68.

CTF 68 headquartered in Rota, Spain, commands all Navy Expeditionary Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility and is responsible for providing EOD operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in direct support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability. 

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.