As part of its deployment to the West African coast and the Gulf of Guinea, the maritime action vessel 'Audaz' has called at the port of Pointe-Noire for 5 days to carry out various military cooperation and defence diplomacy activities in the Republic of Congo. This is the second visit of a Navy vessel to the city in recent years.
The 'Audaz' called at the city of Pointe-Noire, the main port and economic engine of the Republic of Congo, after having previously completed a period of maritime surveillance and security in the Gulf of Guinea. A number of Spanish fishing vessels operate from this city, and the 'Audaz' had the opportunity to meet them at the mouth of the port and visit one of them to convey a message of security and support for national interests in the region.
The vessel is integrated into the operational structure of the Armed Forces, through the Maritime Operational Command (MOC), based in Cartagena, under the control of the Operations Command (MOPS, in Spanish), and within the framework of the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) of the European Union (EU), to project maritime security in an area of vital strategic interest.
Military cooperation with the Congolese Navy
During the port call, different military cooperation activities were carried out with the Navy of the Republic of the Congo. All of them aimed at maritime security and the fight against illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea, including boarding exercises, counter-piracy practices, infrastructure protection, diving, health and fire-fighting.
These activities are essential to reinforce the maritime security capabilities of the coastal countries, with the common goal of achieving safe and secure maritime spaces free from threats. The Congolese Navy received and bid farewell to the OPV 'Audaz' with the presence of authorities, a brass band and honours picket on the dock, and accompanied the ship with a patrol boat during its departure.
Upon its arrival in Pointe-Noire, the OPV 'Audaz' received on board the Spanish Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, Carlos Robles Fraga, with the traditional 'salute to the voice' and subsequent signature in the Book of Honour. The ambassador and the commander of the 'Audaz' held meetings with different local and regional authorities, and offered a reception on board. With the support of the embassy, visits were made to the Central African Regional Maritime Security Centre and the Director of this Centre was received on board. A meeting was also held with the Archbishop of Pointe-Noire, Miguel Ángel Olaverri Arróniz, a key person in various social and humanitarian projects in the region. Defence diplomacy activities contribute to strengthening the State's external action.
Area of interest
Stability in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea is essential for Spain's security. Piracy and acts of robbery at sea pose a major risk to the national fishing and maritime community that operates legitimately in the region, where there is also a proliferation of illicit trafficking that poses a threat to our country. Likewise, instability in this region, which is a source of important energy resources for Spain, endangers free navigation along maritime lines that are essential for our country.
Deployment to the West African coast and the Gulf of Guinea
During the CMP-GoG (Coordinated Maritime Presence - Gulf of Guinea) deployment, the vessel carries out maritime surveillance and environmental awareness activities on a permanent basis, thus contributing to increasing maritime security in the region. It also carries out multiple military cooperation activities with the coastal countries, fostering mutual knowledge and trust and helping to increase their capabilities in the area of maritime security. Likewise, the OPV 'Audaz' also supports Spanish diplomatic delegations in the region, with the aim of contributing to the State's action abroad and reinforcing national interests in the region
EU Coordinated Maritime presences
The deployment of the OPV 'Audaz' makes a decisive contribution to strengthening the European Union (EU) Coordinated Maritime Presences initiative as an effective instrument to improve maritime security in the area, and to advance cooperation between the EU and West and Central African states. The aim of this mechanism in the region is to ensure a permanent maritime presence and availability, to promote international maritime cooperation and to provide greater European operational capacity. Spain, as a partner fully committed to European security and defence, is one of the main contributors to this EU initiative.
It is the first of the two vessels that make up the extension to the 1st series of four OPV that Navantia built for the Spanish Navy. It was delivered on 26 July 2018, and is based in Cartagena. On board the OPV 'Audaz' in addition to its crew, there is an Operational Security Team of Marines from the Tercio de Armada, from San Fernando, as well as a military reinforcement for specific capabilities. It is commanded by Lieutenant Commander Marcos de Sousa Fuchs.