The US government has donated two 38 ft Defender-class boats to Ghana’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS), the Ghana Navy announced on 19 July.
It said a ceremony was held on 14 July at Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) in Nutekpor to commission the boats that were delivered with associated equipment, as well as a new pontoon pier at the facility.
“The boats will enable the SBS to respond swiftly to maritime challenges and carry out critical operations with enhanced efficiency in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Chief of the Defence Staff Vice Admiral Seth Amoama.
The Ghana Navy also said a newly assembled prefabricated mobile camp that was donated by the Danish government was commissioned, adding that it will “serve as a vital operational base, providing the SBS with the necessary infrastructure and facilities to effectively plan and execute missions [and] as a hub for training, coordination, and joint operations”.
This is part of a five-year trilateral agreement signed with the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) and Denmark’s Frogman Corps to develop the SBS into an elite, tier-one special operations force by 2026, according to the navy.
The U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Virginia E. Palmer joined the Chief of Defense Staff and senior officers from the Ghana Navy, the Ghana Armed Forces, and the Ministry of Defense last week to visit the Ghana Navy Training Command (NAVTRAC) in Volta Region and commission multiple projects to support maritime security. Six U.S.-funded projects at NAVTRAC and the surrounding area totalling more than $6 million will support Ghana’s maritime security capabilities. These capabilities are especially important for protecting commercial activities, including shipping and fishing, in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Our $48 million in security assistance to the Ghana Armed Forces this year includes substantial support for the Ghana Navy. Piracy and illegal fishing in the Gulf of Guinea pose a persistent threat to Ghana’s security and economic development. Better protected shipping means more reliable supply chains for the region and greater shared prosperity,” said Ambassador Palmer during the visit.
In 2021, the United States announced that SAFE Boats International will supply two 38-foot (12 m) Defender class boats along with trailers, spare parts and training to the Ghanaian Navy to help in the fight against piracy and other maritime crime. SAFE Boats International was awarded a $1.1 million contract by the US Coast Guard on 1 June to supply the two Defender-class boats by the end of September 2023.
This is not the first time that Ghana is receiving the Defender class boats, in 2015 the US Coast Guard provided five 27-foot Defender class boats to the West African nation. Since the early last decade, Ghana has been steadily building its naval strength, by introducing new vessels and building a new base.
This acquisition is part of the Ghanaian Navy’s growth plan to improve its capacity to handle the maritime and security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea. In June, Ghana Navy received two high-speed Protector class ships from the United States of America to boost its maritime law enforcement mandate.
Last year, the Ghanaian Navy (GN) commissioned four new Flex fighter patrol boats and is awaiting the delivery of two other offshore patrol vessels. In October 2017, it received four patrol boats donated by China.
The Defender-class boats have also been supplied to other African nations including Liberia, Djibouti, Togo and Benin.