NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Italy – A team of U.S Marines and Coast Guardsmen, with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, worked with more than 25 Ghanaian Sailors in small-boat operations and maintenance at the Sigondi Western Naval Base in Ghana, April 13-24, 2015.
Previously, the U.S. Coast Guard gave the Ghanaian Navy five 27-foot Defender-class boats to aid their operations; recently, four of the five boats had been removed from the water due to maintenance issues.
“Our main focus was teaching them how to repair the boats and keep them in operational condition,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tim Kessler, the mission officer-in-charge.
Of the four inoperable boats, two had been capsized and were damaged beyond repair. To ensure prime performance from the one Defender-class available for use, the Marines and Coast Guardsmen introduced the idea of constant conservation.
Throughout the two-week evolution, the service members would routinely pull the working boat from the water, and conduct preventative maintenance on the craft.
The collective effort of the U.S. and Ghanaian service members resulted in effectively salvaging one of the formerly inoperable boats.
As the training began, the service members were initially impressed by the younger sailors’ ability to take care of their boats. However, the sailors required more advanced methods of engine and boat maintenance in order to keep their boats functioning. For the Marines and Coast Guardsmen, understanding the differences in operational procedures with the Ghanaians contributed to mission success.
“[The Ghanaians] showed us right off the bat they understood the fundamentals and could handle basic maintenance issues,” said Kessler. “We were able to build on that and teach them advanced maintenance techniques that will help them keep their boats in better operating condition and help salvage inoperable boats.”
The advanced training was accomplished by integrating the procedures used by both nations’ mechanics and supplementing the skills already used by the Ghanaian Sailors.
“We provided them solutions they can accomplish without significant influence from our techniques,” said Kessler. “We were open to how they fix things in the Ghanaian Navy vice how the United States Marine Corps or Coast Guard would do a similar thing.”