By Jessica F. Alexander
The following blog post was originally published in the July 2012 edition of SEALIFT, a Military Sealift Command newspaper publication. During the month of September, we will be highlighting regular blog posts from the mission as APS 12 concludes in Africa.
HSV Swift (HSV 2), a U.S. Military Sealift Command-chartered high-speed vessel, is providing critical support to the U.S. Navy’s partnership mission in Africa this year.
Swift pulls into Durban Harbor, South Africa, June 5 for a two-day port visit.
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Suzanna Brugler
Since January, the U.S. Navy has been deployed to Africa as part of an ongoing international effort to improve regional maritime safety and security during a mission called Africa Partnership Station 2012.
APS is an international security cooperation initiative aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. Training activities focus on counter-piracy, illicit trafficking, and energy and resource security.
Sailors aboard HSV Swift (HSV 2) practice hose-handling techniques during damage control training May 8.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jonathan Garcia
In the past five years, APS has brought together more than 30 African, European, North and South American countries. The mission is in part motivated by the belief that effective maritime security and safety will contribute to development and economic prosperity.
Swift arrived in Africa May 4 after a fuel stop in Dakar, Senegal. Once on station, the ship’s crew conducted brief port visits in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Lome, Togo and Pointe Noire, Republic of Congo before heading further south to Namibia and other locations in South Africa.
There are currently 60 total crew members aboard the ship, including contracted mariners, U.S. Sailors and Marines and the Embarked Security Team.
HSV Swift is a mission-critical element to APS 12, providing a versatile, agile platform for a variety of subject-matter expert exchanges with host nations.
In remarks aboard Swift, Capt. Susan Dunlap, Navy Africa Region Director, talked about the impact of the APS mission commitment in terms of resources.
“It is a huge task to schedule ships, hold conferences, make plans and do everything that needs to be done to bring off an event of this magnitude,” said Dunlap.
Partner nations benefit because the concerns of the maritime environment today are global.
“Piracy affects all nations that transport goods on the ocean. Drugs trafficked through most of Africa mostly reach European shores. Terrorism is exported to the United States and all over the world. So it is in our own interest to help Africa improve maritime security,” Dunlap said.
APS bolsters maritime safety and security by increasing African nations’ capabilities to secure their own territorial waters and enforce their own economic exclusive zones.
However, true mission success is also dependent upon the friendships and partnerships that are built along the way, and maritime security in Africa is a long-term effort.
During the month of June, Swift continued the mission in Mozambique, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kenya before the APS East mission concludes and heads to the west coast to begin APS West with visits in Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin.
The ship’s gold crew and blue crew turned over in July, and APS 12 is scheduled to conclude in September.
For more information and to join the conversation visit: http://www.facebook.com/hsv2swift.