By Louise Jobe
A French Offshore Patrol vessel deployed on the West Coast of Africa since February 2019, has docked at the Port of Banjul on the 9th of March 2019.
The ‘Corymbe’ Mission Commander Lieutenant Maxime Leroy, told journalists at a press briefing that the French patrol vessel was deployed on the Gulf of Guinea since 1990; adding the mission’s objective is twofold. He said the mission is to conduct routine maritime exercises with waterside countries on the Gulf of Guinea by participating in the protection of French interests within the area, and to participate in the reduction of maritime insecurity, by helping the Gambia Navy to strengthen their capacity for action in areas of maritime security and surveillance.
Commander Birot said among their challenges is to report foreign vessels that fish in Gambian waters illegally.
Captain Sambou Barrow, Naval Commanding officer at the Banjul Port, who spoke on behalf of Momodou Senghore, welcome the French Naval vessel Commander Birot and his crew. Captain Sambou Barrow said the French Navy has a good relationship with their Gambian counterparts for the past years; that any time the French Navy ship and their sailors arrive, their Gambian counterparts give them the cordial welcome they deserve.
Captain Barrow said the French Navy’s maintenance team will visit their patrol boats to carry out maintenance work on their radio antennas and engines, and build the capacity of their Gambian counterparts. Captain Barrow said they are faced with challenges like Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing by foreign vessel fishing in Gambian waters, and the presence of the French Naval patrol vessel is a deterrent to this menace.