US-supplied vessels bolster Ghana’s maritime security

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In a significant development for maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo recently commissioned four vessels into Ghana Navy service.

This took place on 9 September at the Sekondi Naval Base and involved the two 27 metre long Marine Protector class patrol vessels GNS Half Assini (P44) and GNS Aflao (P45) as well as two 12 metre Defender class Safe Boats 38 patrol boats.

The two former US Coast Guard Marine Protector vessels were supplied by the United States under its Excess Defence Articles (EDA) programme, and arrived in Ghana on 17 June. The two Defender class boats were handed over in mid-July.

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.

Akufo-Addo was joined on 9 September by US Ambassador Virginia Palmer and Ghana Navy officials for the official commissioning. “Piracy and illegal fishing pose a persistent threat to Ghana’s prosperity. These 86-foot [Marine Protector] ships will help the Ghana Navy increase patrols to address these threats,” said Palmer. The vessels were commissioned after rigorous sea trials and joint training with the US Navy.

“These two former US Coast Guard Cutters will be put to immediate use by the Ghana Navy to ensure the security and prosperity of Ghana’s territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, and the Gulf of Guinea writ large. And because they will increase the Ghana Navy’s high seas patrols, they will also contribute to security and prosperity of the Gulf of Guinea,” the Ambassador said.

The US Embassy noted the United States and Ghana are working together to address maritime security concerns in the Gulf of Guinea through joint training, technical assistance, financial support, and naval exercises. Visiting the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) last month, Palmer announced more than $6 million for construction, equipment, and training for the Ghana Navy. In 2023, the United States will provide $20 million in training, equipment, and technical assistance for the Ghana Armed Forces to support regional security and peacekeeping.

Palmer emphasized the importance of maritime security to Ghana’s sovereignty and prosperity. Piracy and illegal fishing activities in the Gulf of Guinea threaten the livelihoods and traditions of Ghana’s fishing industry, making these vessels a vital addition to efforts to protect and regenerate the region’s fisheries.

The United States also pledged $24 million over five years to help Ghana install electronic monitoring systems on licensed fishing vessels and designate marine protected areas in partnership with the University of Cape Coast. These initiatives aim to protect vulnerable ecosystems and species, with newly commissioned ships playing a central role in strengthening these efforts.

Akufo-Addo commended the Ghana Navy for its outstanding achievement in building Ghana’s first indigenous landing craft, NAVDOCK 1. He said the vessel is 11.5 meters long and capable of carrying 30 people and a tonne of cargo.

The president also commissioned an oil-spill response vessel called Esther Afua Ocloo into service with the Ghana Maritime Authority, further underlining the government’s commitment to equipping Ghana with the assets to protect the country’s territorial integrity and maximize benefits from its ocean resources.