US Africa Command deploys USS Fort McHenry to Gulf of Guinea

Oct 19, 2007
Author: Donna Miles

USS Fort McHenry (LSD43) dock landing ship. Pic US Navy

by Donna Miles (American Forces Press Service)

Washington, 15 October 2007 – USS Fort McHenry was due to leave Little Creek, Va., on Tuesday (16 October) for a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea that the chief of US Africa Command said will exemplify how his new command will operate.

The amphibious dock landing ship will serve as a platform for the Africa Partnership Station Initiative, which aims to work cooperatively with US and international partners in promoting maritime security in Western Africa, Army Gen. William E ‘Kip’ Ward told Pentagon reporters.

USS Fort McHenry will sail to Spain to take on passengers from several European partners – Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Germany, among them – before heading to the Gulf of Guinea, explained Navy Adm. Henry G. ‘Harry’ Ulrich III, commander of US Naval Forces Europe.

Its full complement will include representatives of US and partner nations’ government agencies and non-governmental organisations, all working together to help African nations increase their ability to provide maritime security.

In addition to the US military, US agencies to participate will be the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, US Agency for International Development, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and US Coast Guard, Ulrich said.

The High Speed Vessel (HSV) Swift will join USS Fort McHenry in the Gulf of Guinea, where it will transport students as well as trainers during visits to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe, he said.

Training teams will focus on a broad range of areas, including maritime domain awareness, leadership, seamanship and navigation, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, civil engineering and logistics.

Support provided will vary between visits, Ward said. He emphasised that the Africa Partnership Station Initiative and AFRICOM as a whole will strive to help African countries build capacity. "Those things that are within our means to do, we look forward in working with the African nations in providing that kind of assistance," he said.

The new initiative "provides a good example of what the newly established US Africa Command is all about as it relates to helping our partner nations on the continent of Africa build their capacity to better govern their spaces (and) to have more effect in providing for the security of their people," he said.

In addition, Ward said, the Africa Partnership Station Initiative will help globalise African economies and develop societies for the betterment of their people.

AFRICOM declares itself to have initial operating capability by 1 October (2007) and began bringing the military's activities on the continent under its umbrella.

Ward said the command will give a 'considered focus' to work currently being conducted by three combatant commands: US Central Command, US Pacific Command and US European Command.

"As we work over the course of the coming weeks and months to stand up the command, we are focused on building the team that will cause value added to be brought to the various programs we do on the continent," he said.

Ward said AFRICOM wil reinforce efforts under way "by creating a greater synergy of the entirety of the work being done."

source - Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State.


HSV2 SWIFT, seen here when the vessel appeared in Durban during November 2003 while on her delivery voyage to the US Navy from the builders in Australia. Picture Terry Hutson



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