APS returns to Ghana under Dutch flag

The Dutch amphibious ship HNLMS Johan de Witt (L 801) arrived in Sekondi Ghana, for a five-day port visit as part of the ongoing US Africa Command Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative.
During this visit, the APS team will conduct engagements both afloat and ashore and continue at-sea training with maritime professionals from Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
“Ghana is a key player in the APS program and it is therefore only logical that we spend ample time in her coastal waters,” said Royal Dutch Navy Captain Ben Bekkering, commanding officer of Johan de Witt.
“After training maritime professionals from Ghana onboard for the last three weeks, I now look forward to expanding that interaction. We intend to operate with the Ghanaian Navy, provide hydrographic support, and in addition will disembark donations from the Netherlands for various organizations in Ghana.”

APS, originally a US Navy initiative, is an international effort aimed at improving maritime safety and security for the continent of Africa through training and other collaborative activities with African partner countries. It focuses on building cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in order to achieve common, international stability and security goals.

At the conclusion of the visit, APS will graduate its first set of maritime professionals this deployment with Ghana. Fifteen Ghanaian sailors embarked Johan de Witt October 9 in Dakar, Senegal, and received maritime safety and security training consisting of classroom interaction and hands-on, skill-building exercises. Topics covered included small boat maintenance, small boat operations, maritime law enforcement, computer software lessons, and advanced first aid training.

“I have enjoyed being onboard Johan de Witt. The crew was very helpful and my fellow sailors and I have learned a lot,” said Ghana Navy Lieutenant Joseph Bazinyin Tenzii. “In Ghana, we have small boats that are used for patrolling our waters. We need experienced sailors operating these boats. With the skills I have learned during this APS deployment, I can now pass these valuable skills on to my sailors to make us a better team.”

In addition to maritime safety and security training engagements, the crew of Johan de Witt will participate in a sporting event with the Ghana Navy soccer team and the Feyenoord Soccer Academy at the Tema stadium and donate several items to the people of Ghana. The donated items will include a fire truck, an ambulance, wheel chairs, computers and clothing provided by various organizations and groups in the Netherlands.

APS focuses on building cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in order to achieve common, international goals such as stability and security.

The APS Johan de Witt deployment began in September and will run through November. Port visits will include stops in Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone.

Johan De Witt, a Royal Dutch Naval vessel, is the first European-led APS platform and is augmented by staff from Belgium, Portugal and the United States.