Ghana receives Marine Protector class patrol boats from the United States

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Ghana’s Navy has taken delivery of two former US Coast Guard Marine Protector patrol boats supplied by the United States under its Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme.

The two vessels were delivered on 17 June aboard the Ocean Giant at Takoradi Harbour, with the Ghana Navy saying they were donated by the US government to assist the Ghana Navy effectively patrol its maritime domain.

Flag-Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Kwafo, told Citi News the vessels’ arrival will add to the Navy’s capacity to fight against armed robbery at sea, piracy, illegal bunkering, drug and human trafficking, and will help protect Ghana’s fisheries resources. “We are very grateful of the partnership with the US.”

He added that the vessels will be named GNS Aflao and GNS Half Assini.

US Naval Attaché to Ghana, Commander Carlton McClain, handed over the vessels and said Ghana’s Navy plays a critical role in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, and the delivery will strengthen maritime security in the region. “Ghana is our most important partner, especially in regional security for the Gulf of Guinea and for West Africa. The Gulf of Guinea…is important in terms of trade, and we are happy to assist Ghana in this partnership,” he said.

The Marine Protector class is 27 metres long, with a displacement of over 90 tons. Two MTU diesel engines give a top speed of 25 knots (46 km/h) and range of 1 700 km and endurance of three days. Complement is ten personnel. Armament includes two 12.7 mm machineguns. Boarding parties can be launched while the vessel is underway, through a stern launching ramp; Ghana received two rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBS) along with the two patrol boats.

The US Coast Guard had by 2002 received 50 of the boats from Louisiana’s Bollinger Shipyards, but subsequent orders brought the class to a total of 74 ships, plus four for Yemen and Malta. In 2020 the Department of Homeland Security proposed eight Marine Protectors would be decommissioned and sent to US allies like the Philippines.

In 2021, Excess Defence Article transfers of Marine Protector boats were proposed for Uruguay (three), Lebanon (three), and Ghana (two).

Ghana’s Navy has been expanding in recent years, notably with the acquisition of four Flex Fighter offshore patrol vessels that were built in Singapore by Penguin Shipyard. They were commissioned in February 2022. These four vessels were bought to provide dedicated security to the country’s offshore oil and gas installations.

In October 2017 Ghana commissioned into service four Chinese-made patrol boats (985Y), which have a maximum displacement of 8.6 tons, a maximum speed of 38 knots and range of 220 nautical miles. Previously, Ghana has bought Chinese military hardware that includes two 46 metre patrol vessels ordered from Poly Technologies in 2008. The two were commissioned in 2011.

New naval infrastructure is also being added, including multiple forward operating bases across the coastline.