Offshore patrol vessel 'Serviola' has hosted for three days several events in the port of Lagos (Nigeria) and also in the programme of exercises at sea with the Italian frigate 'Rizzo' and other units of the Nigerian Navy. The events in the port of Lagos, which took place mainly on April the 7th, were co-organised by the Nigerian Navy, the EU delegation in Nigeria and the delegations of the European Union Member States operating under the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) initiative. The PMC's aim to take advantage of the presence at sea of member states' units and to improve coordination and knowledge in the field of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The event was attended by representatives of the Nigerian Navy, including Admiral Saidu Garba, Chief of Plans and Policy, who was representing the Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Navy, and the Commander of the Western Naval Command. The EU delegation was also present, headed by the EU Senior Coordinator for Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea Gulf of Guinea, Nicolas Berlanga, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Juan Sell Sanz, and the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano De Leo. This large representation is a sign of the solid commitment of the European Union and Nigeria to implement steps towards greater cooperation in order to increase maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea area.
Over the three days, different activities were carried out at sea with the participation of Nigerian Navy vessels, including the NNS 'Prosperity', the Italian ship 'Rizzo' and the Spanish patrol vessel 'Serviola'. All together they conducted maritime security exercises (defence against attacks by speedboats, rescue of ships hijacked by pirates, etc.). These exercises contribute to mutual knowledge and trust and to increasing the training of all participating units. Also, to improve the coordination of ships from different countries when operating at sea, in order to respond effectively to possible piracy or other maritime offences in which they may have to respond together.
The importance of the Gulf of Guinea for Spain
The West African coast and the Gulf of Guinea are a key strategic location of major interest for both Spain and the rest of the European Union,as they enable the arrival of raw materials and fuels through their maritime routes. The well-known increase in piracy and illegal armed robbery at sea represents a major risk for the fishing companies and maritime community that operates legitimately in this region, constituting a destabilising element for maritime security in the area, which is necessary to guarantee the transport of all these resources to Spain.
Coordinated Maritime Presences
The strategic interest of the Gulf of Guinea for the EU and, in particular, for Spain, along with the increase in piracy actions, including the kidnapping of crew members, has forced the EU to intensify its attention to this maritime area of interest. In June 2020, the EU Council adopted the conclusions on Security and Defence which announced the pilot project of Coordinated Maritime Presences in the Gulf of Guinea, with the aim of increasing the capacity of the European Union (EU) in the field of Maritime Security in areas considered to be of strategic interest.
The Coordinated Maritime Presences initiative aims at enhancing the EU's capacity as a trusted partner in maritime security in order to provide a stronger European operational intervention, to ensure a permanent maritime presence and readiness, and to promote international maritime cooperation. The implementation of this initiative in the Gulf of Guinea enhances the EU's involvement in the region, aligned with the EU Strategy on the Gulf of Guinea, in which the Spanish Armed Forces collaborate, and supports the efforts of the coastal states and organisations of the Yaoundé architecture to address growing security challenges, such as armed piracy and kidnapping in exchange for ransoms.