At the Navy Base in the Plateau District of Abidjan, three members of the U.S. Coast Guard are currently training members of the Ivoirian Navy as part of the U.S. government’s engagement with Cote d’Ivoire on maritime law enforcement and security. Using three recently acquired Ivoirian navy patrol boats, the U.S. Coast Guard is using real-life scenarios in a hands-on training environment to train the Navy participants in professional communications, international maritime law, boarding preparations and procedures, arrest and detention procedures, and high-risk search techniques.
The Ivoirian sailors participated enthusiastically in various scenarios that involved boarding a vessel where illicit trafficking activity was suspected. As part of their training, the sailors conducted a boarding exercise and worked as a team to search the vessel and make any necessary arrests. Participants faced challenges in resolving these scenarios, including language barriers with the suspected criminals and decoy tactics such as fires in other parts of the boat that attempted to distract the participants from their objective. Following each scenario, the U.S. Coast Guard trainers provided feedback to the participants and reported that the Ivoirian sailors did a good job of teamwork and decision making to resolve each situation.
The two week training course also features classroom time and aims to assist the Ivoirian Navy and its partners in conducting potentially dangerous at-sea boardings of vessels suspected of illegal narcotics and other trafficking within Ivoirian territorial waters safely and effectively.
This training is part of a broader U.S national effort to assist Ivoirian partners with maritime security and is part of security sector engagements with the United States worth roughly $4 million in 2016. The U.S. Africa Command is currently working with Cote d’Ivoire on planning for Obangame Express, an annual maritime security exercise in the Gulf of Guinea with participation from more than 20 countries. Cote d’Ivoire first participated in Obangame Express two years ago, sending only one participant as an observer. Showcasing how maritime cooperation between the U.S. and Cote d’Ivoire has grown, Cote d’Ivoire is the host nation for this exercise in March 2017.