The Ghana Navy has received two ex-German navy fast attack craft during a ceremony held at Neue Tadewerft, Wilhelmshaven, Germany. They will arrive in Ghana in a few weeks’ time.
The GNS Yaa Asantewaa and GNS Naa Gbewaa are Type 143A Gepard fast attack craft, reports the Ghana News Agency. In July 2010 Ghana announced the acquisition of the two decommissioned vessels, which are 58 metres long and weigh 398 tonnes. They were refurbished prior to being handed over.
A statement released on Friday said that defence minister Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith (ret), accompanied by Rear Admiral M Quarshie, Chief of Naval Staff, received the vessels on behalf of Ghana.
At the ceremony Smith commended the Ghanaian crewmembers for their service in Germany. There are 14 officers and 56 ratings in Germany for familiarisation training on the two ships.
In the statement Lieutenant-Colonel E Aggrey-Quashie, Ghana Armed Forces Public Relations Directorate, said that the delivery of the fast attack craft brings the number of vessels acquired for the Ghana Navy to seven over the last three years.
On February 21 the president of Ghana, John Atta Mills, commissioned four new patrol ships for combating piracy and increasing maritime security in Ghana’s territorial waters (Blika [P34], Garinga [P35], Chemle [P36] and Ehwor [P37]). They were built by China’s China’s Poly Technologies Incorporated.
“It is a positive development that the commissioning is taking place at a time when the responsibility of protecting our fish, offshore oil and gas resources leaves us without a choice,” Mills said. “With the increasing incidents of piracy and other related maritime crimes, we have no option than to equip our Navy to be able to guarantee a secure environment where all legitimate entities can operate freely without hindrance.”
Ghana needs protect its maritime resources, police its waters and ensure security at sea from a variety of threats, including piracy, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, dumping of toxic waste, illegal bunkering, illegal fishing, and pair trawling.
On January 21 last year the Ghana Navy commissioned GNS Stephen Otu (P33), a refurbished Sea Dolphin-class (PKM) fast attack craft donated by South Korea.
In July last year Jane’s reported that Ghana’s Navy plans to acquire ten new vessels over the next two years and believes Ghana has ordered two 62 metre patrol craft from South Korea for delivery by July 2013. Ghana is also expanding its Naval Dockyard in the southwest of the country.
“The investment in re-equipping the Navy and other security agencies should be viewed as a means of sustaining the atmosphere of peace and security needed for the development of other sectors,” Mills said.
Ghana has been reviewing measures to safeguard its waters, most importantly to protect our oil installations from pirate attacks. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is not on the scale of that off Somalia, but analysts say an increase in scope and number of attacks in a region ill-equipped to counter the threat could affect shipping and investment. For instance, Cameroon blamed piracy for part of a 13 percent drop in oil output in 2009.
Other maritime problems include piracy and drug trafficking. The United Nations estimates that US$1 billion worth of cocaine, destined for Europe from Latin America, passed through West Africa in 2008.
Ghana’s Navy is relatively small, with 2 000 personnel, according to the IISS’s 2011 The Military Balance. It operates two 1940s-era Balsam class vessels previously operated by the US Coast Guard, four fast attack craft built by Lurssen (two PB 45 Dzata class and two PB 57 Achimota class vessels) and a single PB Mk III inshore patrol boat that was transferred from the US Navy in 2001.
In its efforts to secure its maritime domain, Ghana is in the process of setting up a vessel traffic management and information system (VTMIS) to provide electronic monitoring of its entire coast. This will include coastal radar stations with command and control centres. In February last year the Ghana Maritime Authority signed a contract with Eltel Networks of Finland to supply and install the VTMIS. The system is being funded by BNP Paribas. Ghana’s parliament last year approved a 17.6 million euro credit facility for the VTMIS with BNP Paribas.