U.S. and partner nations completed final plans for Africa Partnership Station (APS) Nashville in Stuttgart, Germany on November 20, 2008 at the last planning conference before the mission begins in January, 2009.
APS is a U.S. Navy-led program that builds capabilities and professionalism of West and Central African nations to respond to maritime safety and security challenges such as piracy, unlawful fishing and drug trafficking.
The three-day conference, attended by representatives from 19 partner militaries and organizations from Africa, Europe and South America, centered on detailed planning for the deployment of USS Nashville (LPD 13) to the Gulf of Guinea region.
New APS partners for the upcoming deployment include Brazil, Malta, Poland and Finland.
"I think it was very important to finalize all the work of the previous conferences and level up all the training," said Lieutenant, junior grade Jean Pierre Tine, a Senegalese Naval officer and member of the international APS staff. "We've been working to figure out what we could ask for now and what we may ask for in the future."
Nashville and its personnel will visit Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal to conduct professional exchanges in many areas including seamanship, search and rescue operations, law enforcement, environmental stewardship, maritime awareness, medical readiness and navigation.
"Our ongoing efforts to help improve maritime security and safety in Africa are alive and well," said Lieutenant Nick Albano, U.S. Navy deputy planner for APS Nashville. "It was really good to get all the partners together one last time in order to ensure APS Nashville can be effective in its five month mission."
The conference was the fourth this year in which all APS Nashville participants gathered to discuss the way ahead as well as design a training plan tailored for each African nation visited. Attendees concluded with discussions on how APS can expand and improve through other deployments in 2009 and beyond.
APS visits in 2008 have included six U.S. ships as well as aircraft with the goal of maintaining a consistent level of interaction among APS partners.