SEKONDI, Ghana (NNS) -- Fifteen maritime professionals from Ghana concluded three weeks of at-sea training with a graduation ceremony held on the flight deck of the Dutch Africa Partnership Station (APS) platform HNLMS Johan de Witt (L 801) Oct. 26.
The Ghanaian class is the first of three to graduate on this APS platform since the training commenced in Dakar, Senegal, Oct. 9.
Additional maritime professionals from Senegal and Sierra Leone will remain aboard Johan de Witt to receive additional training and are scheduled to graduate in early November 2009.
"The training onboard has been very successful. The instructors were very helpful, and my Sailors and I have learned much," said Ghana Navy Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Augustine Nathaniel Nai, a small boat engine repair graduate. "I will use what I have learned over the past three weeks to form classes in Ghana in order to teach my Sailors and better our skills as a team."
Classroom interaction and hands-on skill building exercises made up the agenda for these maritime professionals. Topics covered included small boat maintenance, small boat operations, maritime law enforcement, computer software lessons and advanced first aid training.
"The exceptional performance of the Ghanaian naval students and their maritime partners from Senegal and Sierra Leone, in both classroom instruction and practical application, reflects greatly upon the students and the nations they represent. We are very proud of their accomplishments," said Capt. Richard Wheatley, APS training officer. "It is another great stride for these individual countries in their overall objective for the region in improving maritime safety and security."
APS focuses on building cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in order to achieve common international goals such as stability and security. APS brings an international team of maritime experts including elements from Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States to offer assistance in addressing maritime safety and security challenges such as unlawful, unregulated and illegal fishing, piracy and illicit trafficking.
In addition to maritime safety and security engagements, the crew of Johan de Witt participated in a sporting event with the Ghana Navy soccer team and the Feyenoord Soccer Academy at the Tema Stadium and donated several items to the people of Ghana. The donated items included a fire truck, ambulance, wheel chairs, computers and clothing from various organizations and groups within the Netherlands.
The APS Johan de Witt deployment began in September 2009 and will run through November 2009. Port visits will include stops in Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock amphibious ship homeported in Den Helder, Netherlands, is the first non-U.S. ship to execute an APS deployment. APS, a U.S. Navy original initiative, is an international effort aimed at improving maritime safety and security for the continent of Africa through training and other collaborative activities with African partner countries.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe -U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.