In early November, eight nations participated in the Cutlass Express 2012-2 training exercise. This annual week-long exercise sees participation from sailors and maritime professionals, and is aimed at increasing East African maritime cooperation and security. This exercise is part of a larger Express series of exercises.
The main goal is to enhance the ability of East African nations to combat piracy off of their coasts. The coordinated efforts also aim at helping countries learn how to police illegal fishing and smuggling, which are also prevalent in the region.
Pre-sail training will for Cutlass Express 2012 will take place in Djibouti, Mauritius, and Tanzania. When the participants set sail, they will head out to the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden to commence the exercise. The whole experience is scheduled to last approximately one week.
While the participants are still in-port, they will take advantage of workshops and training exercises focusing on potential responses to piracy incidents. This includes the practice of coordinated communication and first aid drills. The main focus, though, will be on vessel boarding drills.
Once the group heads out to open water, they will occupy vessels of varying sizes and capabilities. Small, out-board patrol boats will be used, as will larger ships. The HNLMS Rotterdam, a Landing Platform Dock class ship from the Netherlands Royal Navy Landing Platform Dock will participate. The Rotterdam is the flagship of Operation Ocean Shield, a NATO task force formed to combat piracy in the region.
Once at sea, the group will conduct extensive open-water training, in coordination with the operation centers in Djibouti, Mauritius and Tanzania, engaging in piracy, illegal fishing and smuggling simulation.
The Express series of exercises is a United States Africa Command sponsored series that is aimed at helping continental nations solve local security issues through increased cooperation and information sharing.