President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commissioned for the Ghana Navy four brand new River Class Ship vessels built by Israel for the protection of Ghana’s offshore petroleum installations.
The special Offshore Security Vessels funded at a cost of $40milliion by GCB Bank are fitted with high speed engines and external efficient Fire Fighting machine guns mounted on the vessels.
Speaking during the commissioning, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who said ENI and Tullow Oil will raise $40 milion to pay for the vessels funded by GCB Bank within five years, noted that the vessels will ensure adequate security for the country’s offshore petroleum installations amidst the increasing cases of pirate attacks.
“I have no doubt that with the arrival of these River Class ships and the others to follow, our Navy in collaboration with other agencies would be well equipped to protect our maritime domain to boost the blue economy sectors which include shipping, fishing and offshore oil and gas production. These together contribute substantially to our GDP and we cannot afford to continue to leave them at the mercy of pirates and other transnational criminal gangs. The four ships commissioned are acquired to provide dedicated security to our offshore oil and gas installations.”
They were acquired through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement between the Ministry of Defence, Israel Shipyards Ltd, Ghana Commercial Bank, and the International Oil Companies.
“My appreciation goes to Penguin Shipyards Ltd of Singapore, manufacturers of the boats and the GCB Bank Plc for financing the project. May I also thank Eni Ghana Plc and Tullow Ghana Plc who have signed a 5-year contract with the Ministry of Defence and would be contributing more than 20 million dollars each by the end of the 5-year contract period to pay for the ships”, he said.
President Nana Akufo-Addo also explained why the vessels were named after four major rivers in Ghana.
“These ships, christened the River Class in recognition of the importance of our rivers, are Ghana Navy Ship Volta, Ghana Navy Ship Densu, Ghana Navy Ship Pra and Ghana Navy Ship Ankobra. The Ghana Armed Forces have been at the forefront of the fight to end illegal mining in our river bodies to restore them back to their natural state. Recognising the importance of our rivers by naming these ships after them is therefore appropriate”, he added.
The Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, while emphasizing the efficiency of the four new vessels indicated that the new vessels’ capacity far outweighs the existing naval fleet in use.
“I have been reliably informed that since the arrival in the country on 8 January this year, the ships have been activated and undergone
successful sea trials and complete work-up to certify their operational capability. In fact, two of them, while awaiting commissioning, were
deployed to the oil fields and ably provided security to the fields for more than 30 days continuously. This is no mean feat, considering the fact that the current ships of the Navy can hardly stay at sea for more than 7 days. This deployment also confirmed the high efficiency and low operational costs of the ships, particularly with regard to fuel consumption.”
“These ships are designed to provide multi-role security. They each have 3 engines, 3 generators and 3 fixed-pitch propellers. These features allow for great manoeuvrability and high speed. Additionally, the ships have much longer endurance than the ships currently in the Navy’s fleet. They have large deck space for mass casualty evacuation in case of accident on an oil platform and a fire monitor for external firefighting in case of fire onboard any of the platforms.”
He added that, “the armaments on them are just sufficient to deal with the potential threats. Moreover, the ships are designed such that the crew can enjoy maximum comfort; this comfort
is not a feature on other vessels of the Navy,” he said.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, said although the vessels are mainly for the protection of the offshore petroleum installation, it signals overall equipping of the Navy for overall security of Ghana’s territorial waters and signals a reequipping of the Ghana Navy.
“The process of retooling the Navy is on course and will soon see many other ships and other equipment added to build our capacity to deal with the threats in our maritime domain. The maritime sectors of Ghana comprising of Fishing, shipping, Oil and Gas and Tourism are worth more than Five million to ten million dollars, and in order to harness them we need a robust Navy to ensure the safety and security of the Maritime environment that is conducive for business to strive.”
“The government’s plan to fully equip the Navy is therefore not just about enhancing security but also promoting our blue economy”, he said.
The Managing Director of GCB Bank, Kofi Adomakoh, said the funding of the vessels is a good sign of productive collaboration that can happen between indigenous banks and state institutions locally for national development.