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19.11.2008 General News

Senior Naval Officers hold first convention

Senior Naval Officers hold first convention

Rear Admiral Arthur Riby Nuno, Chief of Naval Staff, has said the major challenges that militate against the achievement of safety and security in the country's maritime domain, have been trans-national threats which have been on the ascendancy.

Addressing the first Senior Naval Officers Convention in Takoradi, he said a typical example of this is the report of drug trafficking in Ghana's waters.

The convention was under the theme; “Enhancing Maritime Security in Ghana's Maritime Domain for Socio-Economic Development”.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the Navy was looking at ways and means of bracing itself to meet the challenges that would emanate from the discovery of oil in the country's waters.

He said the degree to which these challenges could be met depends to a very large extent on the strategies adopted to combat them, their effective implementation and the resources available to do so.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the Navy remains the major Government agency which enforces the laws of Ghana at sea.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the Navy could only carry out this role effectively with the help of platforms that enable the service to patrol this vital sea area and ensure that the laws and regulations were complied with.

He said currently, the Navy has six ships including four combat ships and four small inshore patrol boats.

Rear Admiral Nuno said two ships, GNS Anzone and GNS Bonsu which were acquired from the United States government seven years ago are support or logistics vessels.

He said the technical state of the patrol boats which were acquired over 26 years ago is not the best.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the ships have undergone only one major refit each during their entire operational life and a number of equipment on them were defective because of lack of spare parts to carry out routine maintenance and repairs.

He said one of the main challenges facing the Ghana Navy with the maintenance of ships was that of dry-docking.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the recommended docking cycle for Ghana Naval ships is 18 months, but this docking cycle has not been adhered to, because of financial constraints and unavailability of the docks when required.

He said the present situation is so bad that most equipment on ships do not work and “in our effort to keep ships moving, we do things which under normal circumstances would be unacceptable”.

Rear Admiral Nuno said: “We cannibalize machinery and equipment to keep others running” and “ships with three engines have been reduced to one in some cases because we can only get spare parts for one by taking them from others”.

He said most systems such as fire-main system for fighting fire do not work because of minor problems like defective motors.

Rear Admiral Nuno said a slipway was built at the Sekondi Naval Dockyard in the early 1960's to enable the Navy haul her ships out of the water to get access to work at the under water portions.

He said due to the deterioration of the slipway, the Navy takes her ships to the PSC Shipyard at Tema, at a very high cost.

Rear Admiral Nuno said the last docking bill paid on 2007 was 130,000 dollars per ship and in this regard, a new project was initiated in 2000 to rehabilitate and modernize the old slipway.

He said the slipway would offer invaluable support to many oil related vessels expected to operate in the Western Region.

Mr William Ofori-Boafo, Deputy Minister of Defence, said the theme of the convention was relevant in view of current development in the country's maritime environment.

He said these developments include the offshore oil discovery, incidence of drug trafficking through the medium of the sea, illegal fishing, smuggling and piracy, which was on the ascendancy in other parts of the world.

Mr Ofori-Boafo said his Ministry and the high command of the Ghana Armed Forces were studying these challenges and would address them in due course.

He hoped the convention would come out with measures to strengthen existing stakeholders' collaboration and identify new initiatives that would enhance maritime security.