Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Navy gets 4 new patrol boats

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From Edmund Mingle & Clement Adjei-Boye, Sekondi

Four new patrol boats were yesterday, commissioned by President John Evans Atta Mills for the Ghana Navy, giving a major boast to efforts to protect the nation’s territorial waters.
It is the first time since the establishment of the Ghana Navy 52 years ago that it is being provided with four new patrol vessels at once.
The four snake class fast patrol boats, which would enhance the operations of the Ghana Navy in preventing illegal activities within the nation’s maritime boundary, was commissioned at the Sekondi Naval Base, amidst excitement among the people of the Western region.
They come as a relief for the Navy who were faced with depleting fleet in the face of increasing need to protect the nation’s waters as a result of the oil and gas production on the Jubilee Field in the Western region.
With the provision of the boats, which were procured from China through a collaborative effort between the Ministries of Defence, and Food & Agriculture, the Navy would be able to maintain a continuous presence at sea check security threats that include arms and drugs smuggling, dumping of toxic waste, illegal fishing, pair-trawling and illegal bunkering, among others.
It is in fulfillment of government’s promise to resource the Navy and the Ghana Armed Forces in general to effectively deliver on its mandate of protesting the sovereignty of the country.
The ships, christened Blika, Garinga, Chemleand Ehwor, all snake names were constructed in 18 months after the order was placed by the government in March 2010.
“This is only the first step,” President Mills said, assuring that more resources would be provided to the Navy in the course of the year.
According to him, “the Navy deserves what it is getting today,” saying the protection was the nation’s territorial waters, was crucial for nation security.
In addition to the four boats, he announced that government would also take delivery of two newly refurbished German navy Fast Attack vessels currently undergoing refitting in Germany.
Also he said the ongoing Slipway rehabilitation project would be completed to enable the Navy to carry out docking and periodic refitting locally to save the nation millions of foreign exchange that is spent when for such works abroad.
Furthermore, he said ongoing works for the establishment of a Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System along the enture coast of Ghana would be completed soon.
The system, which would include coastal radar stations with control centres, when completed would enhance surveillance of the coast of the nation’s maritime area.

President Mills, who was happy about the success of the government’s efforts to revamp the Navy, said the need to provide a secure maritime environment for the socio-economic development of the country, “is a responsibility we cannot run away from.”
“With the increasing incidents of piracy and other related maritime crimes, we have no option that to equip our navy to be able to guarantee a secure environment where all legitimate entities can operate freely without hindrance,” he said.
“As the Commander-in-Chief, and as I stay committed to building a better Ghana, I will not relent in my efforts to fully equip the Ghana Armed Forces and other security agencies to enable our men and women in uniform to perform and derive maximum satisfaction from their chosen feilds of engagement.
Two of the vessels, paid for by the Ministry Food and Agriculture have been dedicated to the fisheries industry by helping to enforce the fisheries regulation at sea. The other two would be used for general naval operations.
“These four ships could not have come at any better time than now as they give us hope that our maritime resources will be jealously guarded,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith, Defence Minister, in his address.
Real Admiral Matthew Quarhie, Chief of the Naval Staff, expressed happiness about the commissioning of the ships, describing it as historic.
“In the history of the Ghana Navy, this is the first time four ships are being commissioned on the same day.
“This is why the Ghana Navy is highly excited and most thankful to the government and Ghanaians for this historic achievement,” he said.

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