The U.S. Navy has kicked off the active portion of its annual maritime exercise with Mediterranean nations, bringing together naval and police forces from southern Europe and North Africa.
Now in its ninth year, Phoenix Express is one of four regular exercises hosted by the Navy command for Africa to work with nations on problems such as drug trafficking, armed robbery at sea and illegal fishing.
The exercise will combine vessel-tracking exercises with underway boarding drills.
Participants set up a maritime operations center on Monday to begin the at-sea portion of the exercise, along with other events at the U.S. Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Crete.
African nations are often hobbled in their response to maritime crime by a lack of resources, corruption and complicated or unclear command structures.
- Phoenix Express is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored multinational maritime exercise designed to increase maritime safety and security in the Mediterranean and the territorial waters off North Africa.
- Phoenix Express, which originally began as Barbary Thunder, is entering its ninth year as Phoenix Express and 11th overall as a regional North African maritime exercise.
- Phoenix Express, one of four regional Express series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, will focus on increasing capabilities in deterring counter piracy, counter illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats.
- U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.