First I would like to thank Commander Flemming, Captain Casavant, and the crew of the SPEARHEAD for hosting this reception for us tonight. To the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet Topside Band, thank you for returning to Angola for the second time in less than a year in support of our reception tonight and with performances in the Luanda community throughout the week. Finally, I would like to thank all of our guests for joining us this evening.
The SPEARHEAD is halfway through a four month deployment to the West Coast of Africa. During the first half of the deployment the SPEARHEAD, with embarked Marines from the United States, United Kingdom and Spain, has been conducting military to military training engagements with the Navies of Cabo Verde, Senegal, Ghana, and this week the Marinha de Guerra Angolana. After leaving Angola the SPEARHEAD and her crew will shift to the second phase of her deployment and support two exercises that will build upon this earlier training. First, in late March, Exercise Obangame Express will take place in the Gulf of Guinea with participation from 12 African Navies including Angola, and 11 Navies from Europe, the United States and Brazil. This exercise will test the international cooperation, communication and response to a series of maritime security scenarios that include oil tanker hijackings, weapons smuggling and illegal fishing. The SPEARHEAD will finish her deployment with a similar exercise off the coast of Northwest Africa in the month of April.
This training not only is helping reinforce important technical skills, but is also improving cooperation and strengthening relationships between our Navies in this truly team endeavor. Likewise, tonight we will continue to build ties between the multiple ministries, international governments and organizations, and private companies who all have a stake and a role to play in strengthening maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
In the coming months we will have the opportunity to discuss the next strategic steps to be taken in addressing maritime security issues. We hope to deepen our bilateral and international cooperation on maritime security again through an international conference on maritime and energy security later in the year. This conference could play an important role in furthering our shared maritime interests.
We at the U.S. Embassy look forward to continuing cooperation with the Government of Angola and other critical partners in order to maintain and improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond.
Again, thank you and please enjoy the rest of the evening.