Personnel of the United States of America (USA) Navy have expressed their readiness to always collaborate with their counterparts from Ghana to fight maritime crime under the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP).
This came to light at the closing ceremony of the 2015 Ghana Armed Forces and U.S Maritime Forces AMLEP operations at the Sekondi Naval Base, last Tuesday.
AMLEP is an international security cooperation that is conducted by U.S Naval Forces Africa in collaboration with the Ghana Navy, Marine Police and the Fisheries Commission to improve maritime safety and security.
The one month exercise was conducted within Ghana’s economic exclusive zone.
It involved the detection and response to illegal transnational maritime activities such as fisheries offences, illicit drug trafficking and illegal migration.
The focus of this year’s exercise was on vessel boarding, search and seizure as well as communications familiarisation between maritime operation centres and the ships at sea.
For the past four weeks, a U.S Navy Ship, which is a joint high speed vessel christened ‘Spearhead’ in collaboration with other Ghana Navy ships and personnel patrolled Ghana’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Speaking at the ceremony, Rear Admiral Thomas Reck, director, Maritime Partnership Programme, disclosed that the U.S and Ghana had partnered for two successive AMLEP operations over the last two years.
He indicated that those operations formed part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) programme which was an international collaborative maritime security capacity building programme.
He indicated that some great milestones were achieved during this year’s AMLEP in Ghana and credited the success to the excellent collaboration and cooperation between Ghanaian and U.S. forces, the Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Police and Military Forces.
According to the U.S Naval officer who is also the Vice Commander, U.S 6th Fleet, the results of this year’s AMLEP extended beyond the number of boardings and violations of maritime law, adding that the true end result was greater security in Ghana’s exclusive economic zone.
He said this was evidenced in late January when the Ghana Navy, specifically GNS Blika which AMLEP worked with, captured eight pirates and freed the crew aboard the hijacked tanker Mariam.
‘This event showcased the Ghana Navy’s responsive and tactical expertise to locate, board, and then ultimately bring the tanker back to port for follow-on judicial processes,’ he added.
For his part, Commodore Mark Yawson, flag officer Fleet of the Ghana Navy, mentioned that the collaboration had improved the capability of the personnel of the Ghana Navy and Fisheries Enforcement Unit in the area of boarding, search and seizure of vessels whose activities contravened the national laws.
He added that the rich resources in Ghana’s waters created numerous important economic activities and directly affected majority of the population.
The flag officer hinted that in the interest of preserving the resources, the international community had put in place a legal and regulatory framework which permitted states to take advantage of the resources in a rational and judicious manner.
Commodore Mark Yawson then encouraged other stakeholders in the maritime industry to get onboard to make working in the country’s waters safe.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Sekondi
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