Madrid - A United States Navy ship will depart Spain for a seven-month deployment to central and west Africa - designed to help nations around the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea beef up maritime security, say officials.
The amphibious ship USS Fort McHenry would provide training to officials on how to fight crime ranging from unlawful fishing to human and drug trafficking.
It would be joined later by another US Navy vessel as part of the Africa Partnership Station Initiative, which also involved officials from Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain as well as non-governmental organisations.
"We all realised that a stable and prosperous Africa is not just good for Africans, it is good for the rest of the world," said US 6th Fleet Vice Admiral James A Winnefeld.
'We expect 150 students a day'
Plans included visits to Cameroon, Cape Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and the tiny archipelago of Sao Tome and Principe while possible stops in several other African nations were also being explored.
British Royal Navy Commander Nigel May said: "In some of these countries we expect to have up to 150 students a day."
Training will be provided in a broad range of areas, including logistics, search and rescue, maritime domain awareness and navigation.
The plan was to involve more nations in the training in future deployments, which might be carried out on a civilian ship or a vessel belonging to the navy of another country.
Vice Admiral Winnefeld said: "The Africa Partnership Station Initiative is designed to begin an enduring international effort to help our African partner nations become self-sufficient in maritime safety and security.
"We don't have any illusions that we are going to solve this problem overnight."
The USS Fort McHenry would also distribute 75 tons of humanitarian assistance worth $350 000 during its current mission.