SAO TOME, Sao Tome and Principe — Africa Partnership Station (APS), aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) arrived here Jan. 21. APS continues an international effort aiming to enhance regional and maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.
APS includes Sailors from Africa, Europe and the United States who are working towards a common goal - partnership in maritime safety and security. APS brings an international team of expert trainers in a variety of military capacities.
"I am looking forward to being part of this training. I will have the advantage of knowing the language, and will help enhance the relationship between APS and the Sao Tome people," said Portuguese Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jose Neto, APS entry operations officer.
Although the Navy has conducted training during routine deployments in West Africa, the focus of APS is new and different.
"While in Sao Tome the events that are planed will cover a broad spectrum of maritime training designed to enhance its maritime awareness. We also will do some non-military activities including community relations (COMREL) events," said Neto.
With APS, training is conducted as requested by the partner countries. In Sao Tome, that means NCO leadership, operational medicine training, martial arts, damage control and fire fighting, plus a handful of specialty areas.
"APS and Sao Tome are maritime partners; we are going to find out what their needs are. Then we are going to try to respond to those needs that they are asking for," said Neto. "This is the way that partnerships should be, helping each other to increase capabilities while creating maritime safety and security."
As part of the Navy's new global maritime strategy Africa Partnership Station is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multi-national staff aboard Fort McHenry and High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2). Commander Task Group 60.4 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are embarked on board Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in West and Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea on a seven-month deployment.