By: Ndey Sowe
A Belgian Navy Ship that is on a maritime security and capacity building improvement mission with countries on the West African coast, docked at the port of Banjul on the 27th April 2018. The Belgian Command and Logistics Support Ship A960 GODETIA, has sailed from Cape Verde to the Gambia.
Gert Laenen, the Belgian Navy Ship Commander, applauded the welcome accorded them by the Government of the Gambia and said this will further strengthen the already existing friendly ties, between their two countries.
Laenen said apart from the maritime security and capacity building improvement for various Navy’s of countries along the West African coast, their mission is to also donate equipment and supplies of various items on humanitarian grounds in order to assist those countries in their fight against maritime crime and terrorism and to improve regional safety; that the maritime security and capacity building improvement will be able to trace both illegal human trafficking and fishing within the waters of the Gambia, and help protect regional safety in West Africa.
He asserted that solidarity was the most important aspect in this Maritime Security and Capacity Building exercise and they have brought along items ranging from sport wear, School materials and other items such as paint, to be distributed to two Schools in Banjul and some to Local Government Authorities.
The Belgian Navy Ship Commander said the Gambia shares a long history of friendly relation with Belgium and their visit marks the twelfth edition of the maritime security and capacity building exercise for countries along the West African Coast.
Mr. Pierre ML Sarr, the Belgium Consul for the Gambia, expressed similar remarks and further indicated that the visit of the Belgian Navy Ship, will yield good benefits for the country, ranging from health and education, to other sectors of the country.
He applauded the press for their hard work and commitment and urged them to keep up their good work as professionals.
The Belgian Maritime Security and Capacity Building Improvement exercise for countries on the West African Coast is based on four pillars, according to Navy Ship Commander, Laenen. These, he said, are defense, diplomacy, solidarity and cooperation, and surveillance; that Maritime Crime threatens the safe passage of commercial vessels through the regions’ sea lanes, and this, he said, affects local economies; that the effort is to improve and maintain maritime security in West African waters, by exchanging best practices and share experiences and training with West African Navys, together. Laenen said their training will be based on detecting and reporting on suspicious behavior at sea and monitoring their developments.
As tradition allows it, he invited diplomats, journalists and representative of various Local authorities, on a conducted tour of the Ship.