Coast Guard and Navy personnel from Cape Verde, United Kingdom and the United States took part in a maritime law enforcement engagement in coordination with Cape Verde's maritime operations center (MOC), March 16-24.
The engagement, taking similar shape as the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership program, gave Cape Verdean naval personnel the opportunity to ensure maritime security in their territorial waters with mentorship from their U.K. and U.S. counterparts.
Cape Verdean boarding team members embarked Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll (F231) while Cape Verdean patrol boat Guardio (P 511) patrolled the waters in the same vicinity. The two ships' objective was to conduct boardings of merchant vessels in order to detect potential illegal fishing and smuggling activities.
"The purpose of these types of military engagements is to help our African partners learn to enforce their international maritime laws at sea," said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Adam Chamie, liaison to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. "This engagement demonstrated the increasing ability of Cape Verde's ability to successfully board vessels as needed to enforce those maritime laws."
Argyll's commanding officer expressed similar sentiments of the engagement's impact.
"The ability to control the seas helps counter illicit activity such as the trafficking of drugs and illegal fishing," said Royal Navy Cmdr. Tim Neild, Argyll commanding officer. "This engagement has served as an excellent opportunity to work alongside the Cape Verdean authorities to enhance maritime security in this vital region of the world."
In addition to the at-sea activities, various agencies throughout Europe representing the maritime analysis and operations center (MAOC) in Lisbon, Portugal conducted subject matter exchanges with members of Cape Verde's MOC, the Centro de Operaes de Segurana Martima (COSMAR). Participants discussed best practices of maritime law enforcement inter-agency.
"Inter-agency communication is critical to maritime law enforcement," said Chamie. "Part of our goal is to illustrate that sharing information is more effective than working as independent agencies."
Also occurring during the maritime patrol, personnel aboard Guardio and Argyll conducted a two-day training exchange with an emphasis on enhancing boarding skills.
"The techniques used by Cape Verde for boarding vessels are similar to the ones that the U.S. Coast Guard uses," said Chamie. "Guardio is a new and capable vessel, and their boarding team was highly motivated to demonstrate their proficiency."
U.S. military support for this engagement included two Coast Guard boarding officers and one Navy linguist embarked on Argyll, and two Coast Guard operation's specialists assisting with MOC operations in Cape Verde.
The law enforcement engagement is a function of Africa Partnership Station (APS), a program that aims to strengthen maritime partnerships and to improve safety and security in Africa. Since 2008, law enforcement engagements have served to increase African partners' ability to curtail illicit smuggling and other maritime threats.