Ghanaian and U.S. maritime forces completed Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) operations on 16 February.
The combined Ghana-U.S. efforts—an example of the Global Network of Navies—improved interoperability and both nation’s capability to deter illicit activity that threatens freedom and security in the global commons, the US Navy said.
“We are immensely proud of a particular success our team accomplished this past weekend. For more than two days our nations tracked and trailed a potential pirate vessel transiting west through the Ghanaian economic exclusion zone. Upon notification, Ghanaian and coalition partners began working together to react to the illicit platform, using the Gulf of Guinea relationships and networks we together are devoting our energy to strengthening,” said Capt. Heidi Agle, Commodore, Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa/Commander, Task Force 63.
“The rich resources in our waters create numerous important economic activities, and directly affect a majority of our population. In the interest of preserving these resources, the international community has put in place both legal and regulatory framework which permits states to take advantage of the resources in a rational and judicious manner to enhance the socio-economic well being of their citizens. The actual implementation of this framework is both costly and difficult when taking into consideration the enormous size of maritime space of each state. It is therefore challenging to police the borderless seas by a single state. That is why there is the need for states to collaborate and co-operate to protect the resources in the ocean,” said Commodore Mark Yawson, Flag Officer Fleet of the Ghanaian Navy.
USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) and an embarked combined law enforcement detachment, working in tandem with Ghanaian Navy’s Western Naval Command Maritime Operations Center (MOC) and patrol vessels, boarded two vessels and cited one of them for follow-on judicial action.
Another success from this year was aiding in Ghana’s counter-piracy efforts. USNS Spearhead worked in conjunction with the African Western Naval Command MOC to locate, identify and hand off a vessel that was taken over by pirates and transiting the Ghanaian exclusive economic zone.
Maritime law enforcement violations were cited for operating in a restricted area. Based on registry data and other visual identifiers, the vessel that had violations was escorted and transferred to the Ghanaian Navy in order to return those vessels to port for further investigation by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
The combined law enforcement detachment was comprised of U.S. Coastguard, the Marine Police Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Navy, and representatives from Ghana’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.
AMLEP, the operational phase of Africa Partnership Station (APS), brings together U.S. Navy, U.S. Coastguard, and respective Africa partner maritime forces to actively patrol that partner’s territorial waters and economic exclusion zone with the goal of intercepting vessels that may be involved in illicit activity. The program aims to enforce partner nation maritime law and follow-up prosecution so that African partners will benefit from revenue that comes from judicial processes.