Obangame Express, which began Friday, March 15, is the largest maritime security exercise in Africa. The exercise will continue until March 22.
Conducted by US Naval Forces Africa, the Obangame Express exercise sees the participation of more than 30 countries, including 20 African countries and 11 allied countries from Europe and the Americas. While most of the African participating countries are in central and West Africa, Morocco is the only North African country to join the exercise.
Launched by the Nigerian navy and held every year since 2011, the Obangame Express 2019 looks to increase inter-agency and transnational cooperation between African countries especially those bordering the Gulf of Guinea.
The exercise will take place in the ocean between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria and is set to improve nautical safety and step up security measures.
Besides improving joint cooperation, the event also plans to address maritime domain awareness and information-sharing and to enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African navies to counter illegal activity in the sea, especially piracy and oil bunkering.
During the event, navies will perform search and rescue operations and simulate scenarios to combat weapons trafficking.
Morocco conducts annual maritime exercises with Spain called MAES. In the last exercise in May 2018, the Spanish “Reina Sofia” ship and Moroccan “Hassan II” ship participated.
Morocco also took part in the “Obangame Express” naval exercise last year, conducted at the Douala Naval Base in Cameroon.