President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commissioned six new vessels into the Ghana Navy Fleet as part of government’s commitment to resource the Navy to effectively secure the country’s maritime domain.
The vessels are two Boundary Class ships, donated by the United States (US) government and christened the Ghana Navy Ship (GNS) Half Assini and GNS Aflao, two Defender Class boats, an Oil Spill Response Vessel, christened Esther Afua Ocloo, for the Ghana Maritime Authority, and a locally manufactured Landing Craft.
Speaking at a ceremony to commission the vessels at the Sekondi Naval Base in the Western Region, President Akufo-Addo said the move was a manifestation of his government’s commitment to retool and re-equip the Ghana Armed Forces to enable them to perform their duties of protecting the territorial integrity of the country.
He said the addition of the new vessels symbolized government’s resolve to safeguard Ghana’s maritime sovereignty.
The President said he was committed to resourcing the Navy and other relevant agencies in the maritime sector to help guarantee the sustainable exploitation and benefits the ocean offered.
President Akufo-Addo noted that, “I am aware of the enormous responsibility on the Navy in seeing to it that the maritime spaces of Ghana are safe and secured. That is why we are taking steps to retool the Ghana Navy.”
According to him, the government’s retooling of the security services including the Navy had yielded positive results in the maritime domain saying; Ghana had not recorded any attacks or kidnappings on ships in the last two years.
“This is a significant achievement considering that the country experienced several attacks on ships including the kidnapping of nine crew members from a Ghanaian vessel in 2021,” he said.
The President urged the Navy officers to continue to safeguard the country’s maritime boundaries from any external aggressions, adding, “As we protect these maritime territories there is the need to maintain significant Naval presence so as to prevent criminals from exploiting any contested area.”
President Akufo-Addo expressed gratitude to the US government for donating the GNS Half Assini and the GNS Aflao to the Ghana Navy as part of their support to augment government’s commitment in ensuring the maritime security on Ghana’s territorial waters.
“The USA has supported Ghana’s military revitalization programme through capacity building and enhancements of our capabilities.
The donation of these two 12-metre Boundary Class boats would greatly enhance the operations of the Navy in dealing with sophisticated operations when the need arises,” the President stated.
Mr. Dominic Nitiwul, Minister for Defence, said the importance of a well equipped Armed Forces could not be overemphasized, “that is why the President Akufo-Addo-led government has made the retooling of the Ghana Armed Forces, including the Navy a priority.”
Mr. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, Minister for Transport, said the commissioning of the Oil Spill Response Vessel marked a significant milestone in the country’s maritime sector as it provided a major boost to efforts towards creating a vibrant, safe, and secured maritime ecosystem for economic growth.
Madam Virginia Palmer, the US Ambassador to Ghana, indicated that the donation of the boats was the latest in the United States’ long-standing support for the Ghana Navy, including training, technical assistance, and naval infrastructure projects.
She said maritime security was critical to the country’s sovereignty and prosperity, adding that piracy and illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea were a persistent menace, threatening the livelihoods and traditions of Ghana’s fishing industry.
She noted that “These vessels are the newest component of U.S. support to protect and regenerate these fragile fisheries and we are providing $24 million over five years to help the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture install electronic monitoring systems on trawlers licensed to fish in Ghana and to assist the Ministry, working with the University of Cape Coast, to designate Marine Protected Areas that restrict fishing and other activities to protect fragile ecosystems and species found there.”
Madam Palmer added that the vessels would help to deny pirates, traffickers, and other criminals the use of the sea for their illegal activities, making Ghana and the region not just safer but more prosperous.
Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, Chief of Naval Staff, thanked the President and other partners for the immense efforts in retooling the Ghana Navy to carry out their mandates diligently and effectively.