Lagos — The US is to invest $48 million this year to help train and equip the Ghana Armed Forces, GAF, to fight piracy and illegal fishing to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We know security threats don’t just come from the Sahel; piracy and illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea pose persistent threat to the nation’s prosperity.
A safe and secure Gulf of Guinea means prosperity for the entire region,” the US Ambassador, Virginia Palmer, said.
She was speaking at the commissioning of new structures and equipment for the Special Boat Squadron (SBS) at the Ghana Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) at Nutekpor, near Sogakope in the South Tongu District in the Volta Region last Friday.
The US provided the SBS with two interceptor vessels – 38” Defender Class Safe Boats, christened “Kofi Faidoo” and “Seth Amoama” at the cost of $6.4 million, including the replacement of a landing jetty of the command known as pontoon pier.
Ms Palmer also cut the sod for the construction of an SBS Mobile Training Camp, the first persistent Engineering Detachment (Seabees) to support naval infrastructure projects, construction of SBS boat storage facility and other infrastructural projects.
In addition, she said the US had provided two patrol ships for the country which would be commissioned later this year.
Ms Palmer also said that a team of US Special Operations Forces Africa Combat Divers would visit NAVTRAC to conduct a joint exchange training with the SBS.
“Our partnership has never been stronger, the Ghana Navy Special Boat Squadron programme is thriving, and Ghana’s maritime security is being fortified,” she added.
The ambassador further said that Ghana-US relations had been strengthened, was productive and mutually beneficial, while re-affirming her country’s determination to continue to work with Ghana as a leader in West Africa on regional security, inclusive economic development and protection of democratic institutions.
In a related development, the Danish Ambassador, Tom Norring, also inaugurated a mobile camp at NAVTRAC.
The structures which were donated by the Danish government and valued at about €1million, were transported from Mali into the country about a year ago.
Mr Norring reiterated the importance of continuous strengthening of capacity within the maritime domain and pledged his country’s readiness to support initiatives that would ensure maritime security.
The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, expressed gratitude to the US and Denmark for the assistance which he said would further strengthen the bond of friendship between Ghana and the two countries.
“This act of goodwill and generosity reflects their deep commitment to promoting peace and security in our maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea in general,” he added.
The CDS said the structures and equipment donated will enhance the capability of the SBS and protect them from hazards in their operations and also enhance their tactical efficiency.
The Flag Officer Commanding the NAVTRAC, Commodore Bright Emmanuel Kofi Atiayao, also described the gesture from their benefactors as heart-warming.
A new three-unit classroom block for the Nutekpor DA Basic School, sponsored by the US government, was also inaugurated.
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