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The Offshore Patrol Vessel 'Audaz' ends operational activities in the gulf of Guinea

Gulf of Guinea
June 2, 2023
  • The Navy vessel returns to Spain after almost 5 months of activities abroad

The Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) 'Audaz' has finished its operational activities in the West Coast of Africa and Gulf of Guinea after having sailed more than 20,000 nautical miles, both in the northern and southern hemisphere.

During these 5 months it has docked in 10 countries, calling at the ports of Lagos (Nigeria), Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo), Luanda (Angola), Tema (Ghana), Libreville (Gabon), Douala (Cameroon), Port-Gentil (Gabon), Dakar (Senegal), Sao Tome (Sao Tome and Principe), Nouadhibou (Mauritania) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

The vessel has been integrated into the Maritime Operational Command (MOM), based in Cartagena, and under the operational control of the Operations Command (MOPS).

Maritime security projection

Stability in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea is key to Spain's security. Piracy and acts of plunder 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.

To this end, the OPV 'Audaz' has carried out maritime surveillance and exploration activities of the operational environment, in coordination with all the coastal countries and the Yaounde Architecture, contributing to increasing maritime security in the region. Around 4,000 contacts have been investigated and interaction has taken place with almost 100 vessels operating in the region with links to Spain. Combined patrols have been carried out with different countries in the region, and in March support was provided to the Cameroon Navy and  Yaounde Architecture.

Military cooperation

During stopovers, military cooperation activities have been carried out with most of the navies of the coastal countries. All of them focused on maritime security and the fight against illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea. Of particular note are the boarding exercises, the fight against asymmetric threats, the use of unmanned systems, as well as diving and medical exercises.

The OPV 'Audaz' has participated in the most important exercises that have taken place in West Africa during the first half 2023, the 'Obangame Express' and 'Flintloc'k. Both led by the US command in Africa (AFRICOM) and with the participation of more than 30 nations.

To conclude, the ship participated in two EU PASSMAR exercises in Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe to support the implementation of the security strategy in Central Africa, in coordination with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Defence diplomacy

Throughout the 12 stopovers carried out, the OPV 'Audaz' has supported the Spanish diplomatic delegations in the region with a multitude of activities, with the aim of contributing to the State's foreign policy and strengthening national interests in the region. In these 5 months, 9 Spanish ambassadors have been received on board. It is worth noting that during this period the five priority countries for Spain's foreign policy in this region, according to the document "Africa Focus 2023" have been visited. In addition to the above, authorities from some coastal countries and various ambassadors from allied and friendly countries have been received on board. Meetings have also been held with the Directors of both Regional Maritime Security Centres for Central Africa and West Africa.

Coordinated EU Maritime Presences.

The deployment of the BAM 'Audaz' has been instrumental in strengthening the European Union's Coordinated Maritime Presences initiative as an effective tool to improve maritime security in the area. It has also allowed progress to be made in cooperation between the EU and the 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. It is important to highlight that Spain, as a partner fully committed to European security and defence, is one of the main contributors to this EU initiative.