US navy to launch 'show of force' off oil-rich west Africa

LAGOS (AFP) Jun 04, 2004

A US navy carrier battlegroup is to launch a "show of force" in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea off west Africa as part of an unprecedented global operation to demonstrate America's command of the high seas, a US diplomatic source told AFP on Friday.

The foray by a heavily armed battlegroup into the waters off Nigeria, Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea and other African oil producers, comes at a time when fuel prices are topping the US political agenda and security crises in the Gulf region are pushing demands for greater diversification in energy supplies.

The Abuja-based diplomat told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that the Gulf of Guinea was "a place where there is not normally an American presence" and described the operation as "a show of force."

"Operation Summer Pulse '04 aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the US navy; before we only had two or three operations involving aircraft carriers at any one time," he said, adding that now seven carrier groups are to be deployed in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Guinea.

"The navy wants, through this exercise, to demonstrate to the world that even with all its current responsibilities, it can still position half-a-dozen aircraft carriers withh all the neccessary support ships in the four corners of the world at the same time," he said.

In Washington, a statement on the Pentagon website, said: "Beginning this week and continuing through August, the Navy will exercise the full range of skills involved in simultaneously deploying and employing carrier strike groups around the world.

"Summer Pulse '04 will include scheduled deployments, surge operations, joint and international exercises, and other advanced training and port visits," it added, although the Nigerian military told AFP it had no knowledge of any upcoming joint programmes in the Gulf of Guinea.

The US diplomatic source said that future joint exercises were under consideration, but that the planned visit of a US navy admiral had been postponed until "August or September."

Australian ships head to multinational Pacific Rim war games

SYDNEY (AFP) Jun 07, 2004

Three Australian navy ships left Sydney harbor Monday to participate in seven-nation maritime war games near Hawaii.

The guided missile frigate HMAS Newcastle, supply ship HMAS Success and Anzac frigate HMAS Parramatta will make up Australia's contingent in the exercise, Rimpac 2004, to be held next month.

More than 35 ships, seven submarines, 90 aircraft and 17,000 sailors, airmen, marines, soldiers and coastguardsmen from Australia, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Peru, Chile and Britain will participate, the defense ministry said.

"Rimpac will provide the opportunity to practice our warfighting skills in a combined forces situation," said Australian Commodore Davyd Thomas, who will act as deputy commander of the maneuvers.

"We aim to improve our readiness and efficiency in exercising with our allies and friends," he said.

"By enhancing interoperability, Rimpac helps promote stability in the Pacific Rim region," he said.

Next month's war games will be the 19th Rimpac exercise held since 1971.

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