African Maritime Partnership gets underway

ROTA, Spain — Navy Vice Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld speaks with officers from partner nations during a visit here to kick off Africa Partnership Station (APS) Oct. 29. Africa Partnership Station 2007 is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe led operation carried out by Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Stratchko)

ROTA, Spain — The first Africa Partnership Station (APS) deployment began with the departure of USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and the embarked Commander Task Group (CTG) 60.4, from Naples, Italy Oct. 29, 2007.

"It's exciting to get underway with this unique group of participating agencies, some of whom we have never worked with before in this part of the world," said Navy Capt. John Nowell, Commander, Task Group 60.4.

"We're looking forward to working with our partner nations in the Gulf of Guinea, exchanging ideas with them and further strengthening our ties."

Africa Partnership Station 2007 is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe led operation carried out by Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 Swift. Commander Task Group 60.4 and training teams from various U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps commands are embarked on board Fort McHenry.

In addition, staffs from various European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are also planning to host information exchanges and training with the partnership countries.

"It is a very important mission not only for the U.S. Navy but for the Africans and for our European partners," said U.S. Sixth Fleet Commander Vice Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.

"It's all about trying to help African nations become self sustainable in building maritime security and safety."

This year's APS deployment is designed to support U.S. Naval Forces Europe objectives for its area of responsibility by enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services and improving safety and security for the host nation participants.

"It's all about African prosperity and stability that is being threatened right now by lack of governance in the maritime environment which has led to illegal fishing, drug trading, human smuggling, oil smuggling and environmental issues," Winnefeld said.

"We all realized that a stable and prosperous Africa is not just good for Africans, it is good for the rest of the world. They've asked us to help and we're very happy to be down there."

Africa Partnership Station is scheduled to bring their teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Angola and Sao Tome and Principe. APS will also support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in eight countries during the deployment.

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