FROM ODITA SUNDAY, DOUALA, CAMEROUN
SAFETY of the maritime environment for smooth sailing of merchant vessels has prompted United States of America‚Äôs interest in this year‚Äôs international sea exercise tagged ‚ÄòExercise Obangame Express,‚Äô hosted by the Republic of Cameroun.
USA, a major sponsor of the programme, is leading fifteen other countries from Africa and Europe in the sea exercise billed to end on March 1, 2013.
The goal of the exercise, according to US authorities, is to improve maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to the Director of the operation, Captain David Rollo, a former Defence Adviser to the American Embassy in Nigeria, the exercise is aimed at improving the abilities of the Navies of the world to stamp out criminality at the sea.
‚ÄúThe objective of the whole exercise is to improve communications among the navies and also improve our abilities to work together. It is also aimed at improving our abilities to intercept illicit vessels. Communication has always remain an issue in world military, we would keep improving on communications.‚Äù
He lauded the Nigerian navy for taking the exercise seriously and deploying three of its craft for the operation.
According to him, ‚ÄúWe are proud of the Nigerian Navy for deploying two of their vessels and the maritime patrol aircraft of the Nigerian Airforce for the exercise. We have Nigerians here in the exercise and instructors for the boarding operations. Nigerian navy has been very professional, very competent and very much original leader.‚Äù
‚ÄúMy expectation is to be able to have a successful exercise and be able to bring everybody back safely unhurt. The biggest success is when you take people to sea and you bring them back safely. That is what we have always prayed for.‚Äù Rollo added.
The US Military Chief urged world Navies to do away with the belief that piracy is only a major issue in the water of Somalia.
According to him, ‚ÄúIt is a growing threat for other areas of Africa.‚Äù