President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Saturday commissioned five boats for the Ghana Navy Fleet and an oil spill response vessel for the Ghana Maritime Authority.
This is the second time President Akufo-Addo has presented vessels to the Navy, following the presentation of four offshore security vessels for use by the Navy in February 2022.
Amongst the vessels commissioned into service on Saturday are two 27-metre boats, that would be used for patrolling the country’s maritime borders to the East and West.
Ghana’s western maritime boundary with Cote d’Ivoire was delimited by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in September 2017 and there are ongoing efforts to delimit Ghana’s eastern maritime boundary with Togo.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “As we protect these maritime territories, there is a need to maintain significant Naval presence, to prevent criminals from exploiting any contested areas.
He said the classification of these boats as Boundary Class Ships of the Ghana Navy “is fitting, and their names apt,” adding: “Ghana Navy Ships HALF ASSINI and AFLAO are products of the co-operation between the governments of Ghana and the United States.
“We are grateful for the benevolence of the government and people of the United States,” the President stated.
The United States has supported Ghana’s military revitalisation programme through capacity building and enhancement of our capabilities, with the support of the Navy’s Special Boat Squadron and other initiatives with the Army and Air Force.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised that the current 5-year United States, Denmark and Ghana Trilateral Agreement is set to make the Navy’s Special Boat Squadron a tier-one Special Operations Force by 2026.
The donation of these two 12-metre Defender Class Boats according to him would greatly enhance the operations of the Navy in dealing with sophisticated operations when the need arises.
“It is refreshing to see the Navy serving as a glue that is cementing international and local partnerships towards securing our interests at sea,” the President noted.
He was particularly glad that the Navy and the Ghana Maritime Authority are working together to operate the new flex-fighter, which has been procured for oil spill response.
“As you can see, different players with different expertise, need to come together to work at sea, unlike in other domains. The Petroleum Commission and Ghana National Petroleum Company, both under the Ministry of Energy, are regulators and national operators, respectively, in our upstream oil and gas industry.
However, President Akufo-Addo said it is the Ghana Maritime Authority operating under the Ministry of Transport that has procured a vessel for oil spill response to be operated with the Navy.
Having launched the National Integrated Maritime Strategy last week, President Akufo-Addo applauded the team from the Ghana Navy who have built Ghana’s first indigenous landing craft.
“The NAVDOCK 1, which measures 11.5 metres in length, is designed to carry 30 personnel and one ton of cargo. Their effort embodies the ingenuity, determination and can-do spirit of the Ghanaian people.
“I have been reliably informed that the Ministry of Fisheries and the Naval Shipyard are partnering with some private actors to replace the wooden canoes, used for fishing, with improved aluminium boats,” he added.
President was hopeful that, in time, such collaboration would help develop the country’s shipbuilding industry and offer jobs to the youth of this country, while mitigating the environmental impact of wooden canoes.
“I charge you to collaborate with our academic institutions and the private sector so that this innovation is developed further to include other platforms for the safe transportation of passengers and goods on the Volta Lake and along our coasts,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo reminded Ghanaians of the arduous task ahead and the need to work together to guard the country’s maritime frontiers and protect its interests.
“These vessels symbolise our resolve to safeguard our maritime sovereignty, and I have, thus, no doubt that the crew would live up to the high standards and professionalism that the Ghana Navy embodies.
“I acknowledge the sacrifices of the families of our servicemen and women who make certain that these gallant sailors have the peace of mind to be at sea to ply their trade,” he added.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD