Coast Guard Joins APS in Training on Maritime Security

USS FORT MCHENRY, At Sea – Members of the U.S. Coast Guard International Training Division joined the Africa Partnership Station (APS) USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) from Nov. 7 to Nov. 19, to train Sailors from seven African nations in an officer boarding course and maritime security awareness.

“We’re out here as part of the APS group to enhance the law enforcement abilities of the African nations that are joining us,” said Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Dustin Ruth. “The courses are specifically designed because the Coast Guard is the main maritime authority for law enforcement on the water. We’re able to enforce all of the federal laws and universal laws where other agencies can’t. We’re the experts at it.”

The Coast Guard often works with allied countries providing training to nations in Africa and South America. However, joining APS for this deployment is giving the trainers a series of new experiences to learn from.

“This is the third time that we’ve engaged with the Navy in this format. However, this is the first time we’ve done it on this large of a platform,” said Coast Guard Chief Boatswain’s Mate Anthony Cirillo. “We normally engage with students from these types of countries, but this is the first time we’ve actually had a group of people working with the Navy while working with several nations on one platform, so, the interaction has gone very well.”

Not only are the trainers working with a staff of multiple nations, their students come from Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

“We have so many different countries in our class when usually we only have one,” Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Joel Aber said. “Having this many makes things very interesting and it’s nice how well they work together. We have a few students where English is not their first language. However, we have another student who speaks English and French, and he is translating for the French speaking members. It’s working quite well.”

Despite the language barrier the students have reacted with enthusiasm. Senegalese Navy, Lt. j.g. Jean Pierre Tine, who has been translating for his fellow students, feels that the classes have allowed him to try new roles.

“I enjoyed the maritime planning because I got to learn how to manage a team and this was the first time I was team leader,” he said. “I had to memorize everything and I really liked it. I will try to put it in practice back home. I have done boarding training before with the U.K., but the procedure is not really the same. I’ve been having time to compare. I’ve worked with four different countries French, Senegalese, U.K., and U.S., and they all have different procedures. It is an interesting experience for me.”

In addition to bringing international training teams from 14 different countries, APS, an African and European partnership designed to enhance regional maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa, will also support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects.

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