President John Evans Atta Mills has reiterated the need to equip the Ghana Navy to enable it perform the duties it has been constitutionally mandated to carry out. The President said government was aware of the difficulties the Ghana Navy goes through in putting ships to sea and that in spite of these challenges, the Service manages to remain on top of its job and continues to ensure the safety of the maritime integrity of Ghana.
The Minister for Defence, Lt Gen Joseph Henry Smith (rtd), stated when he commissioned a recently acquired ship, Ghana Navy Ship (GNS) Stephen Out, on behalf of the President at the Sekondi Naval Base Friday 21 January 2011.
The ship is a Fast Attack Craft (FAC) donated to Ghana by the government of the Republic of Korea. The ship was built by the Korea Tacoma Marine Industries Limited in 1982, for the South Korean Navy. She was commissioned in 1982 into service as Patrol Killer Missile (PKM) 237 and operated by the South Korean Navy for 26 years. She was decommissioned in 2008 after which she was donated to the Ghana Navy in 2010. She arrived at the Tema Harbour on 9 December 2010.
President Mills confirmed that the ship had come at the right time to help in the maintenance of Ghana’s maritime security, adding that it was the first element in a much more ambitions programme of security. He said the commercial drilling of oil from the Jubilee Oil Field was an important event which had added Ghana’s to the list of oil producing countries in the World and said the first crude oil lift from the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah on 4 January 2011 put to rest any doubts that Ghana could become an oil producing country.
He stated that there was therefore an urgent need for this God-given resource to be jealously safe guarded at all times. He noted that Ghana was already grappling with illegal fishing activities, smuggling and trafficking of narcotics which cost the country several millions of dollars a year. He therefore cautioned miscreants in society who were bent on derailing efforts of the Government to make Ghana an icon of stability, peace and tranquility in the sub-region to desist from their nefarious activities before the law caught up with them.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Ghana, HE Mr Lee Sang Hak, stressed the need to protect Ghana’s territorial waters, especially the Jubilee Oil Field. He hoped the donation of the ship will deepen bilateral relations between South Korean and Ghana.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Mathew Quashie, thanked the Korean Government and said the Ghana Navy was highly delighted that another ship was being added to the inventory of the Ghana Navy Fleet. He recalled that the last time Ghana Navy witnessed such occasion was 10 years ago when GNS ANZONE, GNS BONSU and GNS DAVID HANSEN were commissioned into the Fleet in 2001.
The ship is named after the late Major General Stephen Joseph Asamoah Otu, the first Ghanaian Chief of the Defence Staff, in recognition of his sterling and exemplary leadership qualities, and for his pioneering role in shaping the professional Ghana Armed Forces whose reputation is well acclaimed internationally.
After the commissioning, dignitaries and other invited guests took a sea trip onboard the new ship.
Present at the ceremony were the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General PA Blay, the Deputy Western Regional Minister, Mrs Betty Bosomtwi Sam, some Members of Parliament, Service Chiefs, Formation Commanders, traditional rulers and representatives of the family of the Late General Stephen Otu made up of Madam Comfort Afua Otu (Sister), Mr Kofi Otu (Son), and Major Adu Otu (Rtd), nephew.
The first commanding officer of GNS STEPHEN OTU is Lieutenant (Ghana Navy) Theophilus Kafui Agbemabiese. He attended the Kotoka Basic school in Burma Camp, Adisadel College in Cape Coast and the Regional Maritime University near Tema before joining the Navy. He was commissioned into the Navy in August 2001..Among the appointments he has held are executive officer as well as acting commanding officer, both of GNS ANZONE.