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NEWS | Sept. 30, 2022

NAVAF, MARFORAF engineers kick off deployment to Ghana

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs

In coordination with the Ghanaian Navy, U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa (MARFORAF) deployed a team of engineers to Sogakope, Ghana, to conduct maritime infrastructure projects, Sept. 15, 2022.

During the six month rotational deployment, Seabees from Commander, Task Force (CTF) 68 assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 and Marines from 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, will work alongside Ghanaian engineers to improve the Ghanaian Navy’s capability to conduct maritime training, interdiction, and security operations in their territorial waters.

With support from Royal Danish Defense forces, the joint and combined team will also make critical construction builds or repairs to a mobile camp facility at the Ghana Navy Training command (NAVTRAC) in preparation for the NAVAF-led exercise Obangame Express 2023 and the U.S. Special Operations Command Africa-led exercise Flintlock.

A humanitarian civic action project at the Nutekpo District Assembly Elementary School will also add three additional classrooms for the local community.

“The relationships and projects that these Seabees will be undertaking are a result of several years of coordination and hard work,” said Chief Warrant Officer Chris Vollmer, lead engineer for Navy Expeditionary Combat Forces Africa, Task Force 68-NAVAF. “U.S. Navy and Marine Corps engineers recently completed surveys and projects with the Ghanaian Navy at NAVTRAC to make this longer deployment possible.”

The Navy-Marine Corps team has a long history of supporting expeditionary and humanitarian missions together. Naval Construction Forces are trained to build and maintain expeditionary and permanent structures while Marine engineers are trained primarily in combat engineering.

The skills attained by the joint and combined engineer team include construction planning and management, embarkation to an austere location, disaster response, and vertical construction. It will also enhance small unit tactics, leadership, while improving maritime security capability.

“Building readiness, relationships and interoperability are essential for the joint engineer community,” said Maj. Mitchell Spidel, Force Engineer, MARFORAF. “The accomplishments of our joint engineer team directly supports our trilateral maritime security cooperation relationship with Ghana and Denmark.”

As a testament to the strength of U.S.-Ghana bilateral cooperation, Ghana will also serve as the location of a future enduring, rotational detachment of Seabees and Marines that would be able to respond to regional maritime infrastructure projects in the Gulf of Guinea.  

“The Ghana Navy is an essential and capable partner in maritime security for the Gulf of Guinea region" said Cmdr. Michael Vallianos, Maritime Program Manager, Office of Security Cooperation for U.S. Embassy Accra. "They are a professional and capable partner, and we are grateful for their hospitality.”

The United States and Ghana share a proud history of promoting peace and stability in the Southern Atlantic. Last month, Ghana hosted the joint-led U.S. and Danish Maritime Operations Planning Workshop (MOPW), which allowed junior officers from 14 African nations to exchange operational planning experiences and plan real-world exercises. Additionally, in March, Ghana participated in exercise Obangame Express 2022, the largest annual maritime security exercise in Western Africa. These types of exercises strengthen partnerships and allow countries to work closer on shared transnational maritime challenges.

The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

Combat Logistics Regiment 27 provides command and control, administration, communications, food service, and services to the Marine Logistics Group (MLG) and serves as the Logistics Combat Element (LCE) headquarters for the MLG Forward to enable sustained logistical support to the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). They also provide the LCE for Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) to enable sustained tactical logistics in support of the Marine Air Ground Task Force.

The 8th Engineer Support Battalion task organizes forces in general support to the MEF providing mobility, counter mobility, survivability, general engineering, and explosive ordnance disposal to ensure a maneuver and tempo advantage.

NMCB 11 is homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, and forward deployed to Rota, Spain, with details and detachments deployed across five combatant commander areas of responsibility to provide an adaptive and scalable Naval Construction Force ready and capable of executing quality construction in combat or in support of civic action, humanitarian assistance, or disaster recovery.

CTF 68 commands all Naval Expeditionary Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility in direct support of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Maritime and Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Strategies and Maritime Support Plans.

MARFORAF is responsible for coordinating Marine Corps related operations and exercises, to include civil affairs and, when requested, military support to humanitarian assistance.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our 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.