BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GHANA
The formation of the Ghana Navy dates back to the period of World War II when the British established the Gold Coast Volunteer Force to conduct seaward patrols to keep the coastal waters of the colony free from mines. At the time of independence, a new volunteer force was organized with its headquarters at Takoradi. This consisted of 2 divisions; one stationed in Accra and the other in Takoradi. This volunteer force provided the first batch of ratings to form the nucleus of the present Ghana Navy.
The actual establishment of the Navy was laid in 1959 by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana who I describe as a maritime strategist. He had an elaborate and a very ambitious long-term programme that sought to make Ghana a maritime power, at least, within the African context. The establishment of the Black Star Line, Tema Shipyard, Takoradi and Tema harbours were all part of the strategic moves to develop the maritime capability of the nation. Building a strong navy was an essential requirement of the maritime plan he vigorously pursued. In line with this plan two inshore minesweepers named YOGAGA and AFADZATO were initially acquired from the Royal Navy to form the nucleus of the Navy. In 1960, two Seaward Defence Boats (SDBs) were acquired from the RN to add to the inshore minesweepers. These were GNS ELMINA and KOMENDA. Later the Navy acquired bigger vessels in line with the extension of our territorial sea to the 6-mile limit. A coastal minesweeper GNS EJURA acquired by lease from the RN and Mobile Repair Crafts GNS ASUANTSI – a converted 2nd world War landing Craft was added to the fleet. A presidential yacht GNS ACHIMOTA was added to the inventory and she became the flagship. All these vessels were second hand except KOMEDA and ELMINA.
In 1963, the first vessels designed and built purposely for the Ghana Navy, KETA and KROMANTSE were acquired. These were the first in their class. Later, similar vessels were built for other navies. Before then, a British loan had been granted for the building of a frigate and the project was almost completed when the first president of the Republic of Ghana was overthrown. The successive governments declined to accept the ship and the British took it over and named her HMS MERMAID which was later sold to Malaysia. A second frigate had also been approved by parliament as a support ship for the fleet. The project only ended up on the drawing board. A naval base at Sekondi for the fleet was also started in 1959 but had to be scaled down after the overthrow. With the addition of 4 Russian patrol boats, the size of the fleet stood at respectable 13 ships in 1967.
Between 1974 and 1980, the GN acquired 2 river Patrol Boats (GNS SAHENE and DELA) and 4 Fast Attack Grafts GNS ACHIMOTA, YOGAGA, SEBO and DZATA from West Germany. Within the same period the 2x IMS (YOGAGA and AFADZATO) 2x SDBs (KOMEDA and ELMINA), 4 x Russian Patrol Boats, the Presidential Yacht GNS ACHIMOTA, the mobile repair craft and the coastal minesweeper were retired. Thus by the end of 1981, the naval fleet had been reduced to 10 vessels in various states of serviceability. Due to the constraints of the economy six of these 10 vessels were run down after 1981 and by 1986 when the then PNDC by its law PNDC Law 156 declared a 12 miles territorial sea and a 200 nautical mile EEZ, the navy had only 4 vessels left on its inventory.
Fifty years after her establishment the Ghana Navy currently has 6 ships and a small inshore patrol boat i.e. GNS HANSEN on its inventory. Out of these 6 ships, only 4 are actual combat ships and these are GNS ACHIMOTA, GNS YOGAGA, GNS DZATA and GNS SEBO. The other two, namely GNS ANZONE and GNS BONSU which were acquired from the United States Government about 7 years ago, are support or logistics vessels which cannot essentially be classified as combat ships. These vessels are over 30 years old. It is with this fleet that the Ghana Navy has, over two decades, dutifully and magically performed her constitutional duties, including international peace support operations, to the admiration of many in the maritime industry.