Successful end to Phoenix Express naval exercise in Med

ROTA, Spain – Abdelkader Bouncedra, commanding officer of Algerian Navy corvette El Kirch (353) (left), shakes hands with Moroccan Captain Mohamed Tahin at a reception on board the Royal Moroccan Navy Frigate MOHAMMED V (F 611) during closing ceremonies of Phoenix Express 2006. The exercise gave U.S. and allied forces opportunities to participate in diverse maritime training scenarios increasing maritime domain awareness while strengthing emerging and enduring partnerships. (DoD Photo)

ROTA, Spain - North African, European and U.S. navies celebrated the successful completion the maritime exercise Phoenix Express 2006 aboard a Moroccan frigate here June 12.

The at-sea exercise focused on developing the individual and collective maritime proficiencies of participating nations, as well as promoting friendship, mutual understanding and strengthening regional partnerships. A comprehensive training agenda provided the countries with numerous opportunities to operate together and develop productive relationships through diverse and challenging training scenarios.

Commanding officers and crew of Algerian corvette El Kirch, Spanish patrol craft Infanta Elena, U.S. frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) and U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2) discussed the exercise at a reception aboard Mohammed V following a nine-day at-sea period focusing on improving interoperability and increasing maritime security and safety.

"Phoenix Express has been a wonderful opportunity to work with other navies and expose our Sailors to the expertise, professionalism, and operational capabilities of our friends," said Lt. Bridget O'Loughlin, operations department division officer for Commander, Amphibious Squadron 8 (COMPHIBRON 8).

Toward the end of the reception, commanding officers remarked on their satisfaction with Phoenix Express 2006 and their desire to continue working together in combined exercises to increase interoperability and continue strengthening emerging regional partnerships.

"We are fostering an environment where mutual sharing of intelligence and operational information will create a common understanding of the maritime picture," said Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Daniels, COMPHIBRON 8 intelligence officer.

The amphibious assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2), homeported in Norfolk, Va., and frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) homeported in Mayport, Fla., participated in the exercise with aviation assets from Morocco, Algeria, Spain and France. Training also included helicopter operations, search and rescue scenarios, maritime interception procedures, maritime maneuvering, refueling at sea, communications exercises, and liaison officer exchanges.

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