The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk arrives in Monrovia, Liberia, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010. The Mohawk is in Monrovia to begin with the Liberian Coast Guard as is part of the African Partnership Station, which is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and other collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Of
Seven crew members from the newly activated Liberian Coast Guard (LCG) spent 10 days at sea with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) crew off the coast of western Africa August 13-23, 2010.
Since February 11, 2010, when the LCG was activated, Liberia's Coast Guard has been training personnel to secure Liberia's regional exclusive economic zone. The LCG has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and other nations' coast guards and navies to develop their maritime capability and capacities.
"I am glad we [had] the opportunity to have ship riders from the Liberian Coast Guard aboard Mohawk," Commander Robert T. Hendrickson, commanding officer of the USCGC Mohawk said. "Not only did they have the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience with navigation, engineering, boat handling and other Coast Guard skill sets, they also got a chance to see how we interact with each other and conduct our day-to-day business."
During the LCG's time at sea onboard the Mohawk, members gained experience through on-the-job training within their perspective fields. The LGC members also became proficient in maritime disciplines such as damage control, small boat operations, and law enforcement techniques.
"The training I received on Mohawk was very valuable; it helped increased my knowledge and skills so that I can be more proficient in my job in LCG," said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Andrew Zoegbo, section leader of Boatswain’s Mates, Liberian Coast Guard. Zoegbo was one of four LCG members who attended the U.S. Coast Guard's intensive "A" School training for boatswain's mates in Yorktown, Virginia.
Aboard the Mohawk, LCG members also participated in a ceremony with the crew of Mohawk as they crossed the Equator at the Prime Meridian. A crossing-the-line ceremony is a time-honored tradition that signifies the first time a sailor crosses the Equator.
"Participating in the Shellback initiation was fun," Ensign Lemu Reeves, Liberian Coast Guard intelligence officer said. "It also gave me a great sea story to share with my children and grandchildren someday."
The Mohawk also pulled into Lagos, Nigeria during the voyage. Crewmembers from Mohawk and the LCG attended a reception hosted by the Nigerian Navy. The Mohawk also hosted a reception for the Nigerian Navy, government officials and diplomats with the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria.
After the voyage between the two countries' coast guards concluded, the Mohawk's commanding officer said he believed the event had been successful and would benefit more than just the individuals onboard.
"I am confident that these seven shipmates took back a number of valuable experiences and lessons that will serve them well into the future as they shape their organization to be a model maritime force in the region," Hendrickson said. "And as they take something away, they leave something behind -an exchange with this crew that these Coasties will remember and cherish for years to come. That's the other part of the ship rider exchange experience - the cultural exchange and international friendships that are formed."