The efforts of the Ghana Navy, in conjunction with the National Security, to effectively monitor and patrol the State’s maritime domain, have saved the nation about one billion Cedis, which would have ended up in the pockets of persons engaged in illegal bunkering at sea, the National Petroleum Authority has told the Ghana Navy.
This revelation came to light during the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) – Rear Admiral (R\Adm) Peter Kofi Faidoo’s 4-day biennial CNS Administrative Inspection to the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), in Tema, from the 13th to 16th of November, 2018.
The Gulf of Guinea has assumed notoriety for illicit maritime activities such as illegal bunkering, illicit trading of small arms, armed robbed at sea and these are largely attributed to the discontent of the disgruntled youth in the Niger Delta area, who in turn vent their frustrations on vessels – especially those dealing in oil and fisheries.
It is analyzed by experts that when authorities in Nigeria go after these criminals, the latter venture into the open seas to seek safe havens in nearby unguarded waters and then lunge at other vessels.
The CNS said that relatively, the Ghana Navy does a good job of rigorous sea patrols, hence Ghana’s waters have been declared as much safer, as the Navy has the capability of knowing what goes on out there on sea, over a distance of 200 nautical miles.
Admiral Faidoo further posited that after knowing what is ongoing in the marine territory, there is the need to show presence, hence the State is in the process of acquiring an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) and to further establish a Forward Operation Base (FOB) at Nzulebo in the West, to maintain constant presence at sea and shorten reaction time to crime at the oil fields.
The CNS added that naval operations are very expensive ventures as the cost of a single vessel could easily equal the construction of about four hospitals, but the Ghana Navy still maximizes results with whatever is at their disposal.
The CNS also inspected completed projects of the Command, such as the 368 units renamed Biekro Barracks, Junior Rates Transit Quarters (which has ground and first floors completed), Command Regulating Office (with the old now pulled down and foundation works for the new completed) and the Naval Wives’ Association (NAWA) Creche.
The CNS Administrative Inspection is one of the many important traditions of the Navy that the CNS embarks upon biennially to assess the state of affairs of each Command, take stock, review operational and equipment readiness and to analyze the performance of the inspected Commanded.
This inspection, being the Admiral’s first since assuming office in January, 2016, propelled the ENC, who did not miss the opportunity to combine the official parade with certain traditional Navy ceremonies such as Morning Colours (the hoisting of the national flag and Navy ensign) and the Evening Sunset (the lowering of the flags).
The Navy, stewed in traditions, this time round also exhibited acrobatics and gymnastic displays by the Physical Training Instructors (PTIs), a Tattoo parade, a silent drill and lastly, spellbinding fireworks by the 48 Engineer Regiment.
Sunset Ceremony dates back to the 16th Century and entails 3 ceremonies – 1) beating retreat (cease fighting at dusk to resume at dawn as the fighters are recalled), 2) Tattoo (drum signal to instruct to stop serving beer for the soldiers to return to barracks) and 3) lowering of the Colours (Sunset) – which occurs following the Retreat and Tattoo and the night guard posted, then, the colours are lowered, marking the end of day.
Three persons – Godfred Attipoe, Able Seaman II (AB2) Cudjoe Emmanuel and Chief Petty Officer 2 (CPO2) Toya Edward Kwasi, were awarded variously for exemplary performance of duties, selfless attitude, good lifestyle and quality leadership skills.
The ENC is host to the Command Headquarters, the Naval Base, Tema, the Basic Leadership Training School (BLTS) and the Ghana Navy Band.
Dignitaries present at the inspection parade included the Deputy Minister of Transport and Member of Parliament for Tema East – Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tema – Nii Anang-La, Flag-Officers-Commanding (FOCs) of ENC, WNC and Navy Training Command (NAVTRAC) – Commodores James Kuntoh, Isaac Osei-Kufuor and Eric Edu, respectively and R/Adm Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro (rtd), a former CNS.
By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Tema Naval Base