Phoenix Express, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F), is designed to improve regional cooperation, increase maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities in order to enhance efforts to promote safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea.
“This exercise has been going on for over a decade and it gets better every year,” said Capt. Daniel Hopkins, Phoenix Express 2017 officer in tactical command. “It gets better because of the people that make sure the boarding’s go correctly, the people that make sure the exercise stays safe, and the people that assess the training that allows us to be more effective.”
This year's exercise control group will be hosted at the Arsenal Cartagena located in Cartagena, Spain, but training will take place throughout the Mediterranean Sea, to include territorial waters of North African nations.
The at-sea portion of the exercise will test North African, European, and U.S. maritime forces' abilities to respond to irregular migration and combat illicit trafficking and the movement of illegal goods and materials. Additionally, participating forces will work together to practice search and rescue procedures in response to vessels in distress.
“Ideally the participating nations leave Phoenix Express with a baseline skillset that they can continue to build on, train from, and evolve into a competent boarding team that can go out and feel comfortable and safe aboard any vessel in the Mediterranean Sea,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Andrew Ray, visit, board, search and seizure facilitator. “It’s all about standardization with the partner nations.”
Nations scheduled to participate in Phoenix Express 2017 include Algeria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.
Exercise Phoenix Express is one of three CNE-CNA/C6F-facilitated regional exercises part of a comprehensive strategy to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African forces and international partners that addresses maritime security concerns.