At the invitation of the commander of the Danish Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Major General Michael Hyldgaard, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Issah Adam Yakubu visited the Kingdom of Denmark to discuss ongoing Danish efforts in Ghana and explore other areas for future collaboration.
The visit, from 8 to 13 October 2023, also gave the Ghanaian Navy Chief an opportunity to understand how the Danish Armed Forces function and to ensure synergy in current and future cooperation between the two countries on the defense front.
The CNS held bilateral engagements with various dignitaries during the visit, under four thematic areas: 1) current Danish efforts in Ghana; 2) current engagements with the Ghana Navy; 3) future engagements with the Ghana Navy; and 4) engagement with the Danish Shipping Association.
It was expressed that Denmark deems Ghana an important partner, as the latter features prominently in the former’s global operations, such as the capacity building of the Ghana Navy’s Special Boat Squadron (SBS) and related activities, support to the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre (KAIPTC), and support to the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC), projecting it into a centre of excellence for the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) Region.
It also came to light that Denmark aims to leverage Ghana’s peace and democratic credentials as a conduit to promote security and safety in the GoG and for Danish shipping interests in the region to thrive since there are between thirty (30) and forty (40) ships in the region at any point in time.
Denmark has an arrangement with the Ghana Navy that ends in 2026, with details including the SBS capacity building, the acquisition of a full Mission Bridge Simulator, a firefighting and Damage Control Training facility, and other ancillary equipment and facilities to support the Training Command (NAVTRAC).
In future engagements with the Ghana Navy, preventing a connection between piracy and terrorism in the GoG was seen as a priority for Danish officials; hence, they expressed their desire to support the Ghana Army in its operations against the downward drift of terrorism from the Sahel region through partnering the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB).
They thus requested that the CNS lead efforts to sign a Memorandum of Understanding so that opportunities available for supporting the SBS and ASOB could be maximised, while also providing support for the Ghana Air Force.
The possibility of more direct engagements between the Danish and Ghanaian Navies was explored, particularly training at Danish naval training institutions for Ghana Navy Officers and Ratings, with assurances of Danish training teams traveling to Ghana or billets given to Ghanaian naval personnel at the tactical schools, military academy, and National Defence College.
With shipping contributing significantly to the Danish economy, the visit was of high importance to all stakeholders in the maritime sector, as Denmark’s engagements in Ghana are considered the gateway to protecting their interests (mainly shipping) in the GoG.
Admiral Yakubu’s engagement with the Danish Shipping Association was centred on the protection of Danish shipping in the GoG, where the CNS assured the association of the Ghana Navy’s unwavering commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of all mariners and shipping in the region, that being part of its mandate.
He, however, admonished the ship owners to ensure that their ships adhere to best practices while at anchorage to compliment the efforts of the coastal states, promising to come up with some measures to ensure the investments made brought real results, particularly to Danish ships traversing the region.
The leadership of the association, in return, assured the CNS of their continued support to ensure that more investments are made towards peace, security, and stability in the GoG region and beyond the maritime domain.
Generally, Danish officials expressed delight at the dedication of the CNS and his team to ensuring everything that was needed for the successful execution of the projects was provided.
They, however, stressed the need for all other stakeholders to honour their pledges in a timely manner to avoid delays in project execution.
The CNS took every opportunity to express his appreciation for the support extended to the Ghana Navy and assured his hosts of the desire of the Ghana Navy to ensure the investments made would benefit the collective good of both countries.
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