GAETA, Italy -- About 1,400 Sailors and Marines aboard USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) are participating in the 2005 Gulf of Guinea Deployment that began Jan. 25.
Marine Corps Col. Barry Cronin, Commander of Task Group 60.5, leads the mission.
Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Navy Vice Adm. Harry Ulrich says the deployment will benefit all involved.
"The purpose of the deployment is to enhance security cooperation between the U.S. and participating Gulf of Guinea nations by providing the opportunity to interact and improve familiarization with how we operate in real-world environments," Ulrich said.
This deployment is similar in nature to the regularly-scheduled West African training cruises conducted since 1978. The 2005 Gulf of Guinea Deployment includes multiple security training and maritime operations. The familiarization efforts will focus on navigation and seamanship, search and rescue, antiterrorism force protection, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
The deployment is a direct result of the 2004 Gulf of Guinea Maritime Security Conference held in Naples, Italy, in October. The conference addressed regional common interests, challenges and threats for the 17 navies that participated. Nation participants and observers in this year's deployment include Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, and Sao Tome and Principe -- all participants in the Naples conference. Several theater ally counties have been invited to observe the deployment.