USS Fort McHenry to deliver training teams to Africa
October 16, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — The USS Fort McHenry was expected to leave Norfolk, Va., on Tuesday, on a mission to deliver training teams to western Africa next month, said the head of U.S. Naval Forces Europe on Monday.
The Fort McHenry and the High Speed Vessel Swift are expected to begin a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in November as part of the Navy’s Global Fleet Station program, according to the Navy.
The mission will allow training teams aboard the Fort McHenry to assist western African nations develop their maritime security capabilities, said Adm. Henry G. Ulrich III.
The training teams will have between 80 and 100 people, and will consist of both civilian and military personnel, Ulrich told reporters Monday.
The teams will include representatives from European and African countries’ militaries, U.S. government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, Ulrich said.
Their missions will include civil engineering, port security, humanitarian assistance, and search and rescue, according to information provided by the Navy.
Exactly what missions the teams will perform depends on each country’s maritime needs, Ulrich said.
“The way we approach this is we go to our country team, the ambassador, who in turn works with the right ministers in whatever country this is, and we kind of talk to them about where they are in maritime safety and security,” he said.
One mission the teams are expected to perform is helping African nations cut down on illegal fishing, which is a “billion dollar industry” in the Gulf of Guinea, Ulrich said.
As a dock landing ship, the Fort McHenry is designed to help get U.S. personnel onto “hostile shores,” according to the Navy.
Asked if he expected the training teams to get a hostile reception, Ulrich said no.
“All gray ships are built to go into harm’s way and fight — they all are, or we wouldn’t build them,” Ulrich said. “This ship is unique in that — the reason we picked this ship, it has a shallow draft, it is big and fat, it carries lots and lots of people and equipment, it has lots and lots of spaces that replicate classrooms — that’s the only reason we selected this.”