APS, Swift Returns to Ghana in Support of NOAA, Fisheries
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Campbell, Partnership Station Public Affairs
High Speed Vessel 2 Swift arrived in Tema, March 30 for its second visit here, as well as its seventh engagement visit as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS).
Swift will host a group of 40 Ghanaian fisheries observers in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service, who will be leading a training workshop.
Fisheries observers embark industrial fishing vessels off of the coast of Ghana and collect information about the fish being caught, as well as interactions between fishing activities and mammals, sea turtles and sea birds.
However, the impact of observer activities affects more than just fisheries management, according to Augustus Vogel, a representative from the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy participating in APS on board Swift.
"Beyond the fact that illegal fishing activity is a serious maritime security concern for the , fishing vessels are also increasingly important to the international drug trade. Fisheries observers provide a deterrent for these kinds of illegal activities," Vogel said.
In addition to hosting to hosting the NOAA training during the Tema visit, Swift's crew will also offload a number of pallets of medical supplies on behalf of Project HOPE, a private voluntary organization that has partnered with APS to bring health education, care, and needed medicines and equipment to citizens of and . This will complete a $1 million donation in on Project HOPE's behalf.
Swift's crew will also participate in community service activities during the visit.
"The crew have been great hosts and have enjoyed interacting with the many non-traditional partners we have been fortunate enough to work with during APS," said Cmdr. Charles Rock, commanding officer of Swift's (Blue) crew. "But the crew also gets a great deal of satisfaction performing goodwill activities ashore."
APS will also participate in a local workshop on coastal processes with the of , researchers from other national institutions, the and during Swift's visit. The workshop will present techniques for using models important for understanding coastal processes and will involve a field trip to , an area near the that has suffered from high rates of erosion.
"Coastal erosion is an important concern for Ghana, and in fact much of coastal Africa," said Dr. George Wiafe, head of the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries at the University of Ghana, which partnered with APS during another NOAA-led training event in oceanographic data collection on board Swift in early March. "Our department is working to improve its ability to study such issues and provide scientific support for mitigation measures."
Part of the U.S. Navy's Global Fleet Station, APS provides platforms with the capacity and persistent presence to support sustained, focused training and collaboration on a regional scale to maritime partners in West and Central Africa.
During its deployment, Swift is working with various government and non-governmental organizations to support ongoing regional meteorological and oceanography initiatives, host fisheries training events, and deliver humanitarian aid to African nations.