Cutter Dallas Conducts At-Sea Exercise with Equatorial Guinea Navy

ATLANTIC OCEAN – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC 716) concluded a three-day visit to the West African nation of Equatorial Guinea July 11 with an at-sea exercise involving five Equatorial Guinean naval vessels.

Dallas, a 378-foot cutter home ported in Charleston, S.C., is currently deployed off the coast of West and Central Africa in support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative.

During Dallas’ visit, several crewmembers teamed up with Equatorial Guinean naval officers to train in Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) tactics as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) procedures. The at-sea exercises, which included both counter-terrorism and search-and-rescue drills, were intended to reinforce the shore side training. A security vessel from a local commercial oil facility also participated. The visit marked the first collaborative at-sea tactical exercise between naval assets of the United States and Equatorial Guinea in decades.

“I was very impressed with the level of detail and professionalism demonstrated by the Equatorial Guinea Navy in planning and executing these exercises,” said Capt. Robert Wagner, commanding officer of Dallas.

The counter-terrorism drill involved the simulation of a report of a suspicious vessel in the vicinity of the Alba Field Gas Production Platforms off the coast of Malabo. In response, the Equatorial Guinea Navy launched a helicopter from Malabo and directed two patrol boats. The suspicious vessel was stopped by authorities of Equatorial Guinea in accordance with standard procedures and then boarded. The crew was then taken into custody for further legal proceedings.

Later, a SAR drill focused on responding to a distress call received on channel 16 VHF-FM, the international maritime distress frequency. The location, nature of distress, and number of people aboard the simulated distressed vessel was obtained by a nearby Equatorial Guinean patrol boat. The patrol boat then responded to the scene and rendered assistance to the simulated stricken vessel.

“While it was a privilege to play a minor part in these exercises, the true benefit was the extensive coordination and cooperation between industry and the Equatorial Guinea Navy to provide for the maritime security of infrastructure so critical to the regional economy and global stability,” said Wagner.

Dallas began the day’s operations by leading a formation of five Equatorial Guinea Navy vessels while passing in review in front of downtown Malabo. Donald C. Johnson, U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, joined several host-nation military and civilian dignitaries to observe the review from a shore-side vantage point.

APS is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led long-term initiative with a goal of enabling maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa. The program operates with the cooperative support of a variety of military, governmental and non-governmental organizations from the U.S., Africa and Europe.

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