The seventh iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express began this week with maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe and the United States, as well as several international organizations joining in on January 28th.
Cutlass Express 2018 (CE18) is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in East Africa and inform planning and operations.
Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF). CE18 will test participating nations’ ability to respond to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing and search and rescue situations. Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) of participating nations will exercise tracking and reporting procedures of simulated suspect vessels.
The exercise will take place in the vicinity of two operational hubs: Djibouti, Djibouti and Victoria, Seychelles.
EUCAP Somalia is supporting the participation of the Somali Police Force (SPF) Mogadishu Maritime Police Unit (MPU) to CE18 which is scheduled to last eleven days and will include an in-port preparatory phase with five days of underway drills.
Eleven officers from the Somali MPU participate in the exercises, mentored by EUCAP Somalia experts accompanying them. This is the first international, overseas engagement on maritime security for Somali officers since 1991.
CE18 leverages the recently adopted Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, to which 14 nations are signatories for exercising information sharing practices and enforcing international law of the sea.
Exercise Cutlass Express is one of three Africa-focused “Express” series of exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F) and falls under the Africa Partnership Station, an umbrella program for the Express series of exercises and other capacity-building initiatives throughout Africa.
Cutlass Express 2018 participating nations include Australia, Canada, Comoros, Denmark, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, The Netherlands, Turkey and the United States.