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Four patrol boats were on Monday inaugurated at the Western Naval Command, Takoradi to re-equip the Ghana Navy to ensure the security of Ghana’s territorial waters.
The boats, secured through a Chinese grant, were named after former Chiefs of Naval Staff (CNS).
They are Rear Admiral John Kodzo Gbenah, Rear Admiral Arthur Riby Sampa-Nuno, Vice Admiral Matthew Quarshie and Rear Admiral Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro.
Fitted with two propulsion engines and generators and built to perform various naval tasks, they have the maximum speed of 38 knots and endurance of 135 nautical miles.
With modern communication gadgets and 12.7 mm guns, the Defender Class Boats can be deployed against poaching, arms and narcotics trafficking and piracy.
The Minister of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul stressed the importance of the maritime domain and its resources to Ghana’s socio economic development, noting that the navy plays enviable roles in safeguarding its resources.
He added: “We are aware of the growing complexity of maritime challenges confronting the navy, notably poaching, illegal bunkering, drugs and arms trafficking, which all present enormous implications not only to our country but also the countries within the Gulf of Guinea.”
Mr Nitiwul stated that other equipment, including Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) would be used to make the institution more efficient in surmounting maritime threats and also protecting facilities of the offshore oil and gas companies.
He explained that the boats were part of a grant from the Chinese government, adding that it was part of a GHC33,000,000 bilateral security cooperation between China and Ghana meant for the navy.
Describing the boats as strategic national assets, he encouraged the crew to be professional and ensure the efficient use and maintenance of the boats.
The minister noted that the conclusion of the maritime boundary dispute with Cote d’Ivoire at the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) meant exploration oil would be intensified in the coming years and that government was determined to quickly negotiate with Togo to peacefully delimit the eastern maritime boundary.
Mr Nitiwul stated: “With these outcomes, I am sure that the navy should find it easier to conduct its operations without having to wonder where its limits are.”
On accommodation, he announced that government was determined to begin the barracks regeneration programme for the construction of four 16-unit accommodation at Burma Camp, while another GH¢23 million had been released to complete abandoned SSNIT housing projects which started in 2007.
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong said China is willing to help build a safe environment for Africa’s socio-economic development and also support the durable peace and common prosperity of the continent.
She indicated: “China plays a unique role in the solution of African security issues and is a reliable partner for Africa.
She said the safety of the sea route was becoming more important especially with Ghana strategic interest in the Sankofa Oil Field inaugurated in July this year.
“However, piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea was continuously on the rise in recent years. This menace severely threatens Ghana’s shipping and economic security, the international maritime trade and regional security.
China is willing to positively participate in the international anti-piracy cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea and ready to help Ghana in maintaining order in maritime transportation,” Madam Sun said.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Peter Kofi Faidoo said the boats would augment Ghana Navy’s fleet and operational capability.
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