By REBECCA RICKS Defence Reporter
CITY sailors have shared their experiences of enforcing land and maritime security with the Ghanaian navy.
The flight-deck and hangar of Devonport-based HMS Argyll was transformed into the host venue for a delegation of politicians, academics and military personnel.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs held a conference on board whilst the ship was in Tema, off Ghana and the west coast of Africa.
The institute, also known as Chatham House, exists to analyse and promote the understanding of major international issues and current affairs and is regarded as a world leader.
Commander Tim Neild, the commanding officer of HMS Argyll, said: “The conference prompted frank and honest discussions regarding maritime security off West Africa and all parties left with a better understanding of the current situation and with ideas of how piracy, drug trafficking and illegal fishing could be best tackled in the long term.
“During our time alongside and at sea we have strengthened our relationship with the Ghanaian Navy.
“Maritime security is vital for both of our nations and the opportunity to work together on these issues has developed capacity whilst garnering a mutual understanding through information sharing.”
After the conference, guests were treated to a demonstration of the capabilities of a Royal Navy frigate.
Leading Seaman Rob Punter, who talked about the ship’s rigid inflatable boat, explained: “The boats we have are extremely robust and provide a number of capabilities from carrying an armed boarding team to a suspect vessel, to rushing a casualty from ship to shore to rescuing a man overboard.
“As the senior trained coxswain, driving the boats at well over 40 knots is one of the best parts of my job.
“The guests thoroughly enjoyed the capability brief I gave and were really interested.”
Whilst in port HMS Argyll also provided an opportunity for 45 members of the Ghanaian navy to develop their maritime skills.
At the same time, 19 of Argyll’s sailors donned their camouflage and headed to the jungle to participate in warfare training.
The Ghanaians are said to be experts in this field and it was intended to give the Royal Navy an insight into the survival techniques required to operate in such extreme environmental conditions.
Engineering Technician Alex Jay said: “It was an amazing experience and a real eye-opener.
“We were taught how to make water when there’s none around and how to lay booby traps in the jungle.
“Luckily, I didn’t come across any spiders because I’m terrified of them and although they showed us how to cook a python in an ant hill, we didn’t have to eat it.”
HMS Argyll is due home in September.