The Ghana Navy in collaboration with the Office of Security Cooperation of the United States Embassy, have held a planning conference on the 2014 international and regional maritime exercise dubbed: “Exercise Obangame Express 2014”.
The exercise aims at encouraging cooperation among member countries, ensuring togetherness and having a common concept to enhance maritime safety.
Speaking at the ceremony in Accra, Brigadier General Bobson Saagbul, Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, said participants deliberated on modalities for the intended exercise (an at-sea naval exercise), adding that it would focus on counter-piracy and maritime security operations in the Gulf of Guinea.
The conference attracted 50 participants from 14 countries.
Brig General Saagbul said “Obangame” means cooperation and that “historically whenever a group of nations faced a common threat, the tendency has been that they unified their efforts to combat that threat”.
Brig General Saagbul said to prevent the danger of war; the United Nations developed the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Seas aimed at guaranteeing the freedom of the high seas and the maximum exploitation of its resources.
He said illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, human trafficking and counter-piracy, had affected all countries in the Gulf of Guinea and called for an integrated approach to fight those crimes.
Brig Gen Saagbul called for cooperation among countries, adding that internal cooperation helped a nation to be strong and effective to attain the necessary level of maritime security required for development.
Commodore Mark Yawson, Chief of Ghana Naval Staff, thanked the United States Africa Command and the US Government for its immense contribution to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the International Maritime Bureau’s reports from January to May 2013, revealed that the incidence of piracy was high in the Gulf of Guinea, and urged individual countries to take stock of their achievements.