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02.02.2006 General News

Top US Naval Officer calls on Defence Minister

By GNA

Accra, Feb. 2, GNA - Admiral Henry Ulrich, Commander of the US Naval Forces in Europe, on Thursday suggested that Ghana used the Italian model of protecting its maritime resources because both countries shared similar circumstances relating to maritime security. To this end, the Admiral has offered to host a delegation from Ghana in Rome to get acquainted with the Italian system, as well as other models of coastal protection that would suit Ghana. Admiral Ulrich made the suggestion when he called on the Defence Minister, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor at his office at Burma Camp in Accra. The US Naval Officer, who has only just taken up the position, is in Ghana to meet senior Ghanaian and US officials and introduce himself to the Ghana Armed Forces.

Admiral Ulrich said his visit was to talk about the upcoming Gulf of Guinea Maritime Safety and Security Conference scheduled for Accra in March to be hosted by the GAF.

He said he would be working closely with the military authorities in Ghana to ensure that the maritime safety of the Gulf of Guinea was maintained.

The Admiral told the Minister that the European Command was willing to send a team to Ghana to look at the capability and capacity of the Ghana Navy in protecting the country's territorial waters and see how they could be assisted.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said he was happy that the US was interested in the maritime security of the Gulf of Guinea.

He said the Gulf of Guinea was believed to be an oil-bearing region and a matter of economic importance to countries bordering it. Dr Addo-Kufuor said the Navy was inadequately resourced to apprehend foreign fishing trawlers that poached from the country's waters, as most of their vessels had become too old and unserviceable. The Minister appealed to the US to help with logistics to patrol the maritime zone of Ghana, because narcotic drug trafficking as well as smuggling was thriving in the coastal areas.

He said the GAF would be pleased if the US government through the Foreign Military Financing grant could arrange for the procurement of spare parts to support three naval ships the US Coast Guard donated to Ghana Navy about five years ago.

He said procuring spares to service the vessels was beyond the budget of the GAF.

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