USNS Carson City (T-EFP 7), a Military Sealift Command Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship, departed Rota, Spain, on July 2, as part of the Navy’s second deployment to the Gulf of Guinea this year.
Sailors and embarked personnel will work alongside regional partners on an Africa Partnership Station (APS) mission to provide small boat maintenance assistance, maritime law enforcement engagement, and medical and community relations outreach.
“The deployment of USNS Carson City to the Gulf of Guinea enables our partners to improve maritime security along their coastlines, territorial seas, and exclusive economic zones,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. “Maritime security is critical for coastal nations as seaborne trade is the lifeblood of global trade. When maritime trade freely sails across the seas, economic development and opportunities for prosperity are possible.”
U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cutter Thetis (WMEC 910) was the first U.S. ship to deploy to the Gulf of Guinea in 2019.
“Thetis conducted training with our African partners on maritime law enforcement throughout exercise Obangame Express 2019 and continued training with our partners in the region during its deployment,” said Foggo. “Carson City’s deployment will enhance Gulf of Guinea nations’ maritime capabilities through workshops and collaboration. The presence of U.S. ships such as Thetis and Carson City helps address some of the challenges our African navies and coast guards have requested assistance with, including law enforcement and maritime resource management.”
During Carson City’s deployment, U.S. military personnel will work alongside U.S. partners in Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal to provide assistance based on host nation requests during previous APS exercise and engagements. The crew and the embarked European allies will provide host nation-requested, needs-based assistance through engagements as part of our enduring friendship and partnership with our African partners.
Mission personnel traveling with Carson City include a small boat maintenance and repair team, a medical team, United States Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement personnel, and the U.S. Naval Forces Europe band, who will conduct performances for local communities.
“We have a lot of experts embarked aboard Carson City to work alongside our Gulf of Guinea partners in areas they have asked for assistance such as maintenance and medical engagements,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Howard Gray, lead planner for Carson City deployment.
These experts include service members from other regional partners and allies, who are also joining Carson City for the deployment.
“Not only do we have U.S. service members from the Navy and Coast Guard, but we also have members of the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian navies embarked to help ensure our African partners are getting the assistance and mentorship they need to succeed,” said Foggo. “We are also embarking members of the Ghana Navy for a brief period. Together, we are promoting progress through partnership.”
Thetis’ deployment earlier this year, like the Carson City deployment, was part of the APS program. The cutter was in Africa theater for three months, conducting training with regional countries on law enforcement tactics and techniques to combat illegal fishing, human and narcotics trafficking, piracy, and pollution.
APS is U.S. Naval Forces Africa’s flagship maritime security cooperation program focusing on maritime safety and security through increased maritime awareness, response capabilities, and infrastructure. It consists of the various exercises and operations conducted by U.S., European, and African partners and allies throughout the U.S. Africa Command area of operations.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.