As part of its deployment in the West African coast and the Gulf of Guinea, the maritime action ship (BAM) 'Audaz' has participated in some events of the PASSMAR program of the European Union and has called at the Gabonese ports of Libreville and Port-Gentil. It has carried out activities of presence, military cooperation and support to the State's external action.
PASSMAR and BAM 'Audaz
PASSMAR is a program to support the implementation of the security strategy in Central Africa, funded by the EU. The overall objective of this program is to increase maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea by strengthening the legal and institutional framework and operational support to the capabilities of the coastal countries. On March 28th and within this EU PASSMAR program, the BAM 'Audaz' participated in a boarding exercise in Gabonese waters for the benefit of the MCP (Maritime Crime Programme) of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). He pretended to be a pirated vessel with links to drug trafficking, arms and illegal immigration, so that the Gabonese Navy and other agencies in the country could be trained in the search and handling of evidence at a maritime scene. INTERPOL and UNODC staff acted as mentors. As the initiative was driven by Spain within the EU, the Spanish Ambassador, Ramón Molina Lladó, boarded the 'Audaz' and witnessed all the exercises at sea. The synergy in the use of European means and resources in this region makes it possible to multiply the contribution to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Stopover in Libreville
On its arrival on the 26th at the port of Libreville, the capital of Gabon, the BAM 'Audaz' received on board the Spanish Ambassador. The following day, it participated in the ceremony of delivery of material donated by the EU to the Navy and Judicial Police of Gabon within the PASSMAR Program. The ceremony took place at the door of the BAM 'Audaz', with the ship in the background, and in the presence of the Spanish and EU Ambassadors, as well as several Gabonese and UN authorities. Afterwards, a reception was held on board with a solemn flag lowering ceremony. During the stopover, meetings were held with regional and military authorities, and a visit of the Spanish colony residing in the city was received on board. All these activities of defense diplomacy contribute to reinforce the State's external action, and project a solid message of commitment to Gabon.
Landing at Port Gentil
The ship arrived in Port Gentil on March 29 to carry out an intense program of military cooperation activities with the Gabonese Navy. Training periods in diving, health, fire-fighting and boarding were carried out, and working visits were made to the Naval Base and the Maritime Operations Center. Sports competitions were also scheduled to foster the bonds between the two navies. Likewise, the Commander of the BAM 'Audaz' held new meetings with civilian and military authorities of the region. Finally, two officers from the Gabonese Navy embarked on a combined patrol in areas of interest to their country. All these activities are part of the bilateral cooperation plan that Spain and Gabon have signed in defense matters.
Escort to the merchant ship "Chopin".
At the end of the activities in Gabonese waters, the BAM 'Audaz' carried out an escort of opportunity on the merchant ship 'Chopin', which was transiting in an area of high risk of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. This merchant ship is linked to Spanish interests, and like many other vessels, is monitored while in this area by the Navy's Maritime Action Operations and Surveillance Center. This escort of opportunity serves to project the capabilities of the Armed Forces in the protection of national interests in and from the sea, and contributes to improving maritime security in the region for the benefit of the Spanish merchant and fishing fleet.