WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. African Command announced the USS Fort McHenry dock-landing ship is heading to the Gulf of Guinea in an initiative to increase regional security.
Officials say the USS Fort McHenry will port off Africa's west coast to train African volunteers as part of the Africa Partnership Station to bolster regional security, U.S. African Command reported.
"The concept of the Africa Partnership Station emanates from requests from the Africans themselves to be in a position where they could in fact have established the situational awareness and control over their maritime environment, which they recognized they did not have," Navy Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, AFRICOM deputy commander for military operations, said in a statement.
Moeller said the training will including responding to maritime security threats among other initiatives in a region where 62 piracy attacks were reported in African waters in 2006.
"Recognizing these threats themselves, the Africans have requested that we provide this kind of assistance," Moeller noted. "Allowing Africans essentially to police and have control over the maritime environment assures the ability of those countries to develop economically in a very stable way. There's a direct relationship between a secure maritime environment and a secure and stable terrestrial environment."