AFRICOM Ship Heads for Gulf of Guinea
AFRICOM stated Thursday, January 17, 2008, that The USS Fort McHenry (amphibious dock landing ship) is heading to the Gulf of Guinea in an initiative to enhance security in the West African sub-region.
The main objective, according to AFRICOM, will be to train African volunteers as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) to bolster regional security. Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, AFRICOM ’s deputy commander for military operations, further stated that the training would include responding to maritime security threats.
“Allowing Africans essentially to police and have control over the maritime environment assures the ability of those countries to develop economically in a very stable way. … There is a direct relationship between a secure maritime environment and a secure and stable terrestrial environment.”
This comes to a time when the Gulf of Guinea has witnessed an increase in maritime piracy attacks. According to Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau (January 9, 2008), attacks off the coast of Nigeria increased from 12 cases in 2006 to 42 cases in 2007, making it the second most dangerous area in terms of piracy after Indonesia with 43 attacks.