Nigerian and US navies conduct joint exercise in Gulf of Guinea
Armed members of the Nigerian Navy were crouched on the deck of a warship, their eyes riveted on a target. A helicopter purred above us and drones were ready to fly.
Nearby, an attack boat rushed towards a ship in the port of Apapa in Nigeria.
In Nigerian waters and around the Gulf of Guinea, piracy, illegal fishing and other crimes at sea are on the increase, threatening lives, food security and international trade. In an effort to increase the country’s maritime security capabilities, members of the Nigerian Navy recently participated in a four-week maritime security training exercise conducted by the US Coast Guard.
The training, sponsored by US Africa Command (AFRICOM), began on August 30 and was also attended by members of the Spanish Navy.
“These maritime training operations required the collaboration of not one, but three national navies, all working together simultaneously,” said US Navy Captain Chad Graham, commanding officer of USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. . “Collaborative operations like this provide invaluable experience for my crew in the present, but they also allow us to be more efficient and capable in future operations with our partners in the region. “
Bashir Jamoh, head of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Security Agency, told Reuters that increased maritime patrols, including those carried out by the US and European navies, have helped reduce some crimes in the region. rich in petroleum.
“If the threat to their ships is not addressed, all international trade is affected,” Jamoh said.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy have been major problems in Nigeria and the region for decades.
In the first quarter of 2021, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for 43% of all piracy incidents in the African region, according to the International Maritime Bureau. During this period, 38 incidents were reported in the Gulf of Guinea, including 33 boarded vessels, two attempted attacks and one hijacked boat. The attacks targeted freighters, fishing boats and passenger ships.
In 2020, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than 95% of all maritime kidnappings globally, according to the office.
Illegal maritime trade costs West Africa nearly $ 1.95 billion across the fish value chain and $ 593 million per year in household income. IUU fishing also decimates rapidly declining fish populations, destroys ecosystems and has been linked to other crimes such as piracy, kidnappings and drug trafficking.
In June, the Nigerian House of Representatives reported that the country is losing $ 70 million a year due to illegal fishing, including the loss of revenue from taxes and license fees, and money that could have be collected by legitimate local fishermen.
Small-scale fishing operations contribute 80% of locally produced fish and support the livelihoods of 24 million Nigerians, reported The Maritime Executive.
Vice-Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo, Nigerian Naval Chief of Staff, spoke about the country’s maritime security concerns in early September at an annual conference in Kano.
“Characteristically, maritime threats have become a major concern and are evolving and challenging the combat capability of the Nigerian Navy and other stakeholders,” Gambo said in an article in the Nigerian Daily Trust newspaper. “The current situation calls for constant reassessments, greater collaboration as well as inter-agency cooperation among stakeholders. “
The US military has long supported Nigeria’s maritime security efforts.
Earlier in August, officers assigned to USS Hershel “Woody” Williams participated in a three-day sea training exercise with Nigerian offshore patrol vessels. In July, 25 Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service officers and a team of US Army Special Forces completed a five-week joint combined exchange training exercise, according to the US Navy.
The countries jointly participate in several annual military exercises, including Flintlock, which focuses on combating terrorism and transnational crime, and Obangame Express, which focuses on maritime security.
Written by Africa Defense Forum and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.