The offshore patrol vessel 'Serviola' has ended its deployment in the Ghanaian port of Sekondi. A stopover was scheduled from April 16th to 21st, as part of its deployment in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa, under the operational control of the Operations Command (MOPS).
These type of stopover have two main purposes: on one hand, to carry out military cooperation activities with the coastal nations, in this case Ghana; and on the other to support defence diplomacy.
The support for defence diplomacy took the form of the presence on board the 'Serviola' of the Spanish ambassador to Ghana, José Javier Gutiérrez Blanco-Navarrete, and an exchange of visits with the region's civilian and military authorities.
Presided over by the ambassador, the commander of the patrol vessel offered a protocol reception on board which was attended by the highest civil and military authorities of the area, the Minister of the Western Region of Ghana, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, the Chief Commodore of the Western Naval Command, S. Walker. The event was intended to enhance cooperation, collaboration and knowledge between the two nations.
The military cooperation activities carried out in the port of Sekondi together with the Ghanaian Navy focused on the areas of health (first aid, CPR, etc.), internal security (firefighting), physical security (unit and force protection), maritime security operations and maritime interdiction operations (visiting and searching other vessels). In addition, following the departure of the patrol vessel ‘Serviola’, collaboration took place with the Ghanaian patrol vessel ‘Ankobra’ to increase training, strengthen ties and exchange experiences.
The importance of the Gulf of Guinea for Spain
The West African coast and the Gulf of Guinea are a strategic elements of the first level for both Spain and the rest of the European Union, as they enable the arrival of raw materials and fuels through its maritime routes. The increase in piracy and illegal acts at sea poses a major risk to the national fishing and maritime community that operates legally in this region, constituting a disruptive element for maritime security in the area, which is necessary to guarantee the transport of all these materials to Spain.
Coordinated Maritime Presences
The strategic interest of the Gulf of Guinea for the EU and, in particular, for Spain, has led the EU to intensify its focus on 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 enhancing the capacity of the European Union (EU) in the field of Maritime Security in areas regarded as being of strategic interest.
The Coordinated Maritime Presences mechanism aims to enhance the EU's capacity as a reliable maritime security partner, to provide greater 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 reinforces the EU's work in the region, in line with the EU Strategy on the Gulf of Guinea, and the Spanish Armed Forces are collaborating in this regard.
The Offshore patrol vessel 'Serviola'
The patrol vessel 'Serviola' is the first of a series of four patrol vessels built for the Navy in the shipyards of the former ‘Empresa Nacional Bazán’ now ‘NAVANTIA’ in Ferrol in the early 1990s. The ship was launched in 1990 and delivered to the Navy on 22 March 1991. It has a length of 68.65 metres and a beam of 10.40 metres.
The vessel is part of the Maritime Action Force, whose organic command is the Commander of the Maritime Action Force Units in Ferrol, where the patrol vessel is based.
Lieutenant Commander Joaquín Pita da Veiga Subirats is in command.