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By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
Exercise Obangame Express 2023 (OE23), the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western and Central Africa, will kick off its 12th year with 32 participating nations at an opening ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria, Jan. 23, 2023.
Conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) and sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), OE23 is designed to improve regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing and other sea-based illicit activity.
AFRICOM assists African partners with protecting their maritime economy in order to ensure continued sustainable use of maritime resources and enable the security and stability of global maritime trade.
OE23, one of three NAVAF-facilitated regional exercises, provides collaborative opportunities for African and U.S. forces, and international partners to address shared transnational maritime concerns. NAVAF’s ongoing maritime security cooperation with African partners focuses on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure.
"Exercise Obangame Express 23 provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation and share tactics, techniques and procedures for deterring transnational maritime security challenges,” said Rear Adm. Chase Patrick, director of maritime headquarters, NAVAF. “Together, we are creating a more secure, safe, and economically prosperous maritime environment for Africa’s coastal nations and the global community."
Nigeria will host this year’s exercise in its capital city of Lagos. The exercise will also features multiple at sea and ashore training events throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Southern Atlantic Ocean, including exchanges on boarding techniques, search and rescue operations, medical casualty response, radio communication, and information management techniques.
The 32 nations scheduled to participate in OE23 include Angola, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, 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).
For more than 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.