By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Nutekpor, Volta Region
The Ghana Navy (GN) has a shot in its arm, with the official commissioning of the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC), which would host the Navy’s seven major schools under a unified Command and serve as the nerve center of GN’s Training Doctrine and core values of loyalty, devotion and excellence, to improve its human resource development.
The colourful ceremony for the commissioning took place at Nutekpor, in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region, on Tuesday, 20th October, 2020, with the President of the Republic and Commander-In-Chief (C-In-C) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) – His Excellency (HE) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the Guest of Honour.
Ultimately, when the ultra-modern training center is in full flight, it would host the following; School of Maritime Operations, Supply Applications School, Maritime Engineering and Electrical Applications School, Basic Leadership Training School, Navy Recruit Training School, Special Forces Training School and a Diving School, with a 250-acre land outside the command, for shooting range to support training.
However, the facilities officially commissioned at the ceremony were; the Command Headquarters, School of Maritime Operations, the Navy Recruit Training School (NRTS) Administration, Staff and Students Accommodation, a Medical Centre, a Library, a Mosque and a 5-kilometre fence wall around the entire 114.87-acre piece of land, putting GN in a position to run various courses locally, which would otherwise have been undertaken overseas, at high foreign exchange costs to the nation.
HE President Akufo-Addo, in an address, stated that the command would be in a unique position to master the culture and future of the navy, being the mechanism of change, and that the schools are to be equipped to leverage technology, using new training methodologies to enhance learning and achieve greater efficiency, in line with government’s agenda of technology and digitization.
The Minister for Defence and Member of Parliament for Bimbilla – Dominic Nitiwul, assured that, projects such as the new General Headquarters building, the new Army Headquarters building, Commander-in-Chief sports complex in Tamale, the Defence Attache building in India, the Eighty 2-bedroom houses in Tamale, which are all at various levels of construction, will be completed, as he touted huge projects undertaken by the government in GAF.
Recounting the history of NAVTRAC in his welcome address, the Seventeenth Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) – Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Seth Amoama, stated that to develop the appropriate human resource capacity required for naval operations, training departments were established in the two operational commands in Sekondi and Tema, and later upgraded into the Navy Trade Training School and the BLTS.
Admiral Amoama continued that, with the discovery of hydrocarbons in commercial quantities in the country in 2007, and with its attendant security challenges, it became necessary to review GN’s human capacity development strategies and policies, to enable it keep pace and stay ahead of the actors of emerging transnational crimes at sea.
“It was in this direction, that the idea of establishing ultra-modern training facilities in a dedicated command to train naval personnel, not only in Ghana but across the sub-region, was conceived by the then Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral (V/Adm) Matthew Quashie of blessed memory in 2009 and captured it in the new naval establishment in 2010”, CNS R/Adm Amoama said.
In 2013, the Fifteenth Chief of the Naval Staff, R/Adm Geoffrey Mawuli Biekro (Rtd) deemed it fit to establish the Training Command, as a matter of urgency, considering the continuous expansion of the Navy and the discovery of large offshore oil and gas reserves.
R/Adm Biekro appointed NAVTRAC’s first Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) in Commodore Mike Addison (Rtd) and charged him to see to the establishment of the Command, which had its first major hurdle of identifying a location big enough to accommodate the Command Headquarters and the various training schools.
After several months of reconnaissance, the present location along the lower Volta, which offers opportunity for waterborne training in the river, the estuary, easy access for training boats to sail out to the open sea, along the same concept as in the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, United Kingdom, where most GN officers were trained, was identified.
The Navy moved in, occupied and started developing the land for recruit training, while sorting out the acquisition processes through the Ministry of Defence, and on the 26 August 2016, Admiral Kofi Faidoo, started to train the first batch of naval recruits there, who passed out on 24 March 2017, subsequently training two more batches of recruits until 2018.
In January 2019, after assuming office, Admiral Amoama’s administration decided to suspend training at the location and to rather concentrate on the vision of his forebears; to develop NAVTRAC into a world class training facility, to accommodate all the Navy training schools that are located in the Operational Commands.
The Navy, in collaboration with Tullow Oil Ghana, started a rigorous process of tendering through the Ministry for Defence to the Public Procurement Authority, which commenced in May 2019, to select suitable contractors to construct eight different structures, forming the first phase of the Command project.
R/Adm Amoama expressed hope that the second phase of this project, which comprises the School of Marine Engineering and Combat Systems, Supply Application School, Basic Leadership Training School, a Diving School, a Shooting Range, a Swimming Pool and the acquisition of land for barrack accommodation, would commence soon.
The C-In-C later presented Appointment Instruments to Commodore Maxwell Arhin, as the Fleet Officer Commanding (FOC), NAVTRAC.
The project consultant – designed and supervised the project – is Messrs CAD and CAD, whiles the contractors were Messrs Supremo Construction Company Limited, Aminad Limited, Argate Contractors, King Risco Limited, Edricks Services and Core Constructions Company Limited.
Dignitaries present included the Minister for the Interior and MP for Nandom – Ambrose Dery, Minister for Roads and Highways – Mr Amoako-Atta, Minister for Agriculture – Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the National Security Advisor – Brigadier General (Rtd) Emmanuel Okyere, the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Akwa and the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) – Major General (Maj Gen) Thomas Oppong-Peprah.