Spanish ship deployed to support maritime security operations
Spain has deployed one of its new naval ships, BAM Tornado, to Ghana and eight other countries in the sub-region, to help with maritime security and naval operations within the sub region.
As part of its one-week deployment in Ghana, the 73-man crew made up of 11 marines and a medical doctor would hold various military activities, including diving, boarding exercises, anti-piracy exercises, hanging boat exercises and combine patrol with their counterparts in the Ghana Navy.
This, according to the Commanding Officer of the Ship, Lieutenant Commander David Castillo Mandado, was to show cooperation and increase the capacities of the navies of both countries to handle maritime security and surveillance.
“We are in constant touch with all the coastal countries, including Ghana, and we exchange information just to have more capabilities to fight against any illicit act at sea such as piracy, illegal fishing and narcotics.
We offer our capabilities to the coastal countries just so that there will be a better environment here in the Gulf of Guinea,” he explained.
The other countries the ship, which set sail from the Canary Islands on September 5, would end the deployment on December 15 would travel to, include Mauritania, Cabo Verde, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Angola.
While in Ghana, the crew had the opportunity to meet and interact with Ghana’s Minister of Defence and the Chief of the Naval Staff.
A selected number of journalists were taken round on an inspection inside the ship which docked at the Tema Port last wednesday, October 25.
They were shown the various areas in the ship, including the bridge where the ship is controlled, the main gang , upper deck and their weapons which have been set in readiness to respond to any attack or threat at sea.
Launched in 2011 and delivered to the Spanish Navy in July 2012, the BAM Tornado’s main mission is to contribute to maritime security through naval presence operations.
Ships like Tornado have weapon systems specifically developed against threats and are designed to project a special operations force wherever they are required.
Briefing journalists, Lieutenant Commander Mandado said Spanish Naval Ships had since 2010 been deployed to Ghana and the other countries in the Gulf of Guinea where he explained that 90 per cent of the containers in the world were in its maritime way for which reason if maritime trade there was safe, everyone else would have a better life.
He said Ghana, with its stability and democratic values, was one of Spain’s priority countries and that was why every six months, a spanish war ship was deployed to the country to help with its maritime security.
He said Spain was eager to increase its cooperation with Ghana, adding that as the commanding officer of the ship, he was glad he was one of the assets being used to achieve this better cooperation between the two countries.
He also added that as a member of the European Union, Spain was in full support of the EU’s initiative to coordinate maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
On the deployments to the Gulf of Guinea, Lieutenant Commander Mandado said one of the bigger concerns authorities in all the countries they had been deployed to had raised with them had to do with illegal fishing, explaining that some fishing vessels were stealing fish from their waters and that was also an area Spain was cooperating with the countries to fight.
On the achievement of their deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in the past 13 years, he said, it had helped to reduce piracy.