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Making a rare appearance at the Burma Camp yesterday, President John Dramani Mahama, dressed in military camouflage, inaugurated the Naval Headquarters Complex and promised that the government would continue to retool the Navy to enable it to discharge its duties effectively.
The gathering, including soldiers and civilians, cheered as the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), emerged from his Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle to inaugurate the complex, which was financed by the government, private institutions and individuals.
A two-storey plus basement structure, the office complex, which is designed in the shape of a ship, consists of the Command Block and six departmental blocks.
It also has an auditorium, two conference rooms, a library, a canteen and a museum, with the basement housing a gym, offices and storerooms.
The Naval Headquarters dates back to pre-independence era when it was housed in colonial structures. It was not until 1996 when the late Vice Admiral E.O. Owusu-Ansah became the Chief of Naval Staff that the blueprint for a new office was produced.
The construction of the Command Block started in 1997 but it could not be completed before Vice-Admiral Owusu-Ansah ended his tenure.
It was finally completed during the tenure of Real Admiral John Gbenah in 2003.
Work on the rest of the complex stalled until Real Admiral Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro assumed office in 2013 as Chief of Naval Staff, at which time the government and corporate institutions provided funds for work to continue on the rest of the project, which was completed under the current Chief of Naval Staff, Real Admiral Peter Kofi Faidoo.
President Mahama said the block was one of many that were underway to enhance the work of the Ghana Navy.
He said over the last few years, a lot had been done to improve the accommodation situation of the GAF.
“I am certain that you are the best witnesses to the marked improvement in accommodation for both officers and ratings,” he said, but conceded that there was more to be done to bring the accommodation situation to the expected level.
He said land had been acquired and developed to a large extent along the Volta estuary for the establishment of the Naval Training Command.
The President further stated that efforts were underway to establish dedicated barracks for the Western Naval Command at Nchiaban in the Western Region.
Making reference to the Vessel Traffic Information System which had been established to improve the efficiency of the Navy in surveillance, he said it was a testament to the government’s resolve to enhance the work of the Navy.
Touching on the Navy’s extraordinary successes in anti-piracy operations, the President said the operations had brought credit not only to the Navy but also the entire country, as its waters had been rid of maritime crime.
“It is widely acknowledged that Ghana’s waters are the safest in West Africa, thanks to the Ghana Navy,” he said.
President Mahama said the government had, since 2012, equipped the Ghana Navy with six new ships and there were plans to add two more high-power offshore endurance patrol vessels to its fleet.
He also acknowledged efforts by the Ghana Navy to look outside government support to undertake projects and commended all who helped in the completion of the new office complex for their support.
He asked those who would use the place to take good care of the facility.
The President challenged the Ghana Navy to do everything possible to protect the country’s oil and gas infrastructure.
On that score, he welcomed a strategy known as the “smart strategy” which the Navy had put in place to check negative activities directed at the oil and gas infrastructure.
In his welcome address, Real Admiral Faidoo thanked the President and the government for the continued support they offer the Ghana Navy to deliver on its mandate.
He said the new office would provide a congenial atmosphere for work.