On March 1st, the USS Winston Churchill docked in Sudan.
The Winston Churchill follows the USS Carson City’s visit Feb. 24-26, and U.S. Africa Command’s Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Director of Intelligence, Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, Jan. 25-27, further building on the partnership with the Sudanese Armed Forces.
The arrival of the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill to Port Sudan follows Washington’s delisting of Khartoum as state sponsors of terrorism, following the April 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir.
“Together with Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government, we are striving to build a partnership between our two armed forces,” said Rear Adm. Michael Baze, director of maritime headquarters, Navy Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet. “In just the past few months, we have already seen an increase in military-to-military engagements.”
This visit will provide an opportunity for the Sudanese and U.S. military leaders to engage in staff talks to further explore opportunities to work together and establish a basis for a relationship committed to security and stability in the region. The Sudanese officials will also tour the Winston Churchill followed by a reception given by both the Sudanese and U.S. military.
“We look forward to fortifying our friendship through increased interactions at sea and ashore,” Baze said.
An expeditionary fast transport ship, the USNS Carson City, had already docked in the port on February 24, the “first US navy ship to visit Sudan in decades”, the US embassy in Khartoum said in a statement at the time.
It “highlights the willingness” of the US military to “strengthen their renewed partnership” with Sudan’s armed forces, it added.
The arrival of the USS Churchill was “the second (US) ship to stop in Sudan this week,” said US Charge d’Affaires Brian Shukan.
Its arrival, “sheds light on US support for a democratic transition in Sudan,” Shukan added, in a message on Twitter.
This is significant, since Sudan was largely forgotten by the US, until recently, when Russia announced that it was signing a deal to open a port in the country.
The USS Churchill docked shortly after Russia’s Admiral Grigorovich frigate arrived in Port Sudan, where the Russian navy said “a logistical support base” would be created.
The purpose of the base will be to “uphold peace and stability in the region”, according to the deal.
Russia’s navy will be allowed to keep up to four ships at a time at the base including nuclear-powered vessels. The base will be manned by up to 300 military and civilian personnel.
Russia will have the right to transport via Sudan’s airports and ports “weapons, ammunition and equipment” needed for the naval base to function.
The Red Sea naval base will be Russia’s first in Africa and only its second on foreign soil, after Tartous in Syria.
The US has its only permanent base in Africa in the port of Djibouti, 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) to the south, which overlooks the narrow strait between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden — a chokepoint for world shipping. Another country that has a naval base in Djibouti is China.
The games for African influence have begun, as it and the Antarctic are the newest points in which the US will compete with Russia, and also China.
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