The Meteoro-Class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) 'Audaz' has played a part in various maritime security scenarios during the 7 days of 'Obangame Express 23', cooperating and carrying out exercises with 5 African countries in the Gulf of Guinea. Due to the naval capabilities and human resources provided by Spain, our country has become one of the most important contributors to the exercise, thus demonstrating its commitment to security and stability in the region.
OBANGAME EXPRESS 2023
Obangame Express' (OE) is an annual combined naval exercise conducted by US-NAVAF (United States Naval Forces Africa). It is focused on the Gulf of Guinea as an area of strategic interest, and in its 2023 edition, 20 African coastal countries and 12 allied nations participated. The exercise promotes international cooperation and fosters interoperability among all participants, thus contributing to improving maritime security in the region. The exercise directly supports the agreements established by the littoral countries to combat illegal activities and protect maritime interests in the Gulf of Guinea.
OPV ‘AUDAZ’ RESULTS
During these days, the OPV 'Audaz' has interacted with the navies and operations centres of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, operating in 40% of the surveillance areas of the Yaoundé Summit agreements. This translates into a footprint of half a million square miles, equivalent to the area of two Iberian peninsulas, and over 400 vessels have been investigated. The exercises in which the OVP 'Audaz' has actively participated have covered the full spectrum of maritime security threats that plague this region. In addition, Spain provided two liaison officers at the MMCC (Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre) in Benin (Cotonou) and Ghana (Accra). Both the United States and Spain were present with their vessels at the closing ceremony in Lagos, hosted by the Nigerian Navy.
Operational scenarios in which it has been involved
The OVP 'Audaz' participated in a boarding exercise with the Ivorian Navy to combat illegal, unreported and unrecorded fishing. Subsequently, it conducted several boarding exercises with the Ghanaian Navy in weapons and narcotics interdiction scenarios. Finally, it participated in an anti-piracy scenario, simulating a hijacked merchant vessel, which, after being monitored by different operations centres, was released by units of the Nigerian Navy. Thanks to these scenarios, Spain's commitment to the region is reinforced, coastal countries are supported in improving their maritime capabilities, regional maritime security structures are strengthened, and there is decisive collaboration with friendly and allied countries.
EU Coordinated Maritime Presences
In addition to Spain with the OVP 'Audaz', Italy, Portugal, and France also deployed naval units in exercise OE 23, within the framework of the European Union's (EU) Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) in the Gulf of Guinea. The aim of this mechanism in the region is to ensure a permanent maritime presence and readiness, to promote international maritime cooperation and to provide enhanced European operational capability. As part of this cooperation, the OVP 'Audaz' conducted a series of exercises with the vessel 'Foscari' of the Italian Marina Militare and interacted with an ATL-2 maritime patrol aircraft of the French Marine Nationale.