Veep assures of Navy’s readiness to fight maritime crimes

Obangame Express 2015 Closing 6The Ghana Navy is well trained and adequately prepared and resourced to combat all forms of maritime crimes on the high seas and in Ghanaian territorial waters, Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, said in Accra Friday.

He cited the rescue of the crew of a Nigerian oil tanker, MT Mariam by the Ghana Naval Ship Blika that was hijacked by pirates and their eventual arrest with large catche of assorted arms and ammunition some weeks ago, as an example of the readiness of the country’s Navy to deal with maritime crimes like piracy, robbery on the sea, arms and drugs smuggling and illegal fishing.

“A Ghanaian registered fishing vessel, MV Lurong Yuan YU 917, was also hijacked and a number of the crew killed, but through the collaborative efforts of four ECOWAS navies, the vessel was eventually released and escorted to safety,” he said.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur said these at the closing ceremony of the 2015 Multinational Maritime Exercise dubbed, ‘Obangame Express 2015’, at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College at Teshie, near Accra.

The fifth annual event involved West and Central African navies, as well as European and South and North American navies.

The week-long naval exercise, which took place on the high seas and led by the United States, was aimed at building the capacities of the navies in the sub-region to maintain safe and secure maritime environment in the Gulf of Guinea and in their individual territorial waters.

The exercise was also to share information between the maritime partners in the ECOWAS, the Economic Communities of Central African States (ECCAS) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and other maritime stakeholders to ensure sufficient and effective handling of information and data.

The Vice President, also the chairman of the Armed Forces Council, thanked the United States for facilitating the exercise and governments of the 22 participating countries, the international organisations and the two regional groupings of ECOWAS and ECCAS for a successful programme in Ghana as host.

Vice President Amissah-Arthur noted that Ghana and other countries sharing the Gulf of Guinea had come under severe threat of illegal activities including human trafficking and unregulated and unreported fishing.

“No nation can combat maritime crime alone,” he said stressing that, it was imperative for a collaborative effort of countries to ensure free maritime trade.

The US Deputy Chief of Mission Patricia Alsup, described the Gulf of Guinea as the life blood of the Maritime African nations more than ever before adding that the sea had the potential of providing for its neighbouring nations in a multitude of ways.

Unfortunately, she stated that from time immemorial, there were those that use the sea to exploit resources and take advantage of unpatrolled waters.

She said the United States would continue to partner with countries around the world to fight global crimes such as maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.

By Norman Cooper

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