In this current dispensation of the twenty- first century, the Ghana Navy often observes rituals and traditions that have distant or mysterious origins. Some of the actions that we at times undertake seem to be grossly unnecessary or even patently silly. The facts of the case still remains that, we do these things happily and without a second thought. This is no way a failure of our collective sense or thinking ability, but a deliberate recognition that what has gone before forms an important part of what - and who - we are today. In fact it is our identity as a Navy.
The whole idea and concept of naval traditions emphasize the point that the Navy is different from other occupations and vocations. The Navy is actually not just another occupation or service but truly a way of Life. In ways that we do not even realize, every day and in every way, we reflect that body of tradition that makes us what we are. We salute when crossing a brow onto something still called a “quarterdeck”; we ring a ship's bell to initiate the ancient ceremony of colours; we precede important announcements with the peals of a Boatswain's call; we use a language that is all our own, unfathomable to the uninitiated.
Many of these actions would be completely familiar to a navy sailor two hundred and fifty years ago. When our ships are commissioned, we still break a bottle of champagne on the stem in a pagan ritual that the Vikings would have understood as they sacrificed young men to be crushed under their launching rollers. There is no rational or logical reason to do some of these things. Indeed, some are counter- intuitive. There are other ways to accomplish the same objectives that are cheaper, or more efficient, or faster. Yet we persist because of an inborn realization that these things are of crucial importance in defining us. Tracing the roots of formation of the Ghana Navy to the Royal Navy in the colonial era, most of our traditions are drawn uniquely from the Royal Navy. It is notable to know how navies with very different heritages have come to adopt over the centuries many of the same procedures. Some of these define a common maritime past. In most cases if you happen to visit another Navy ship, you would instantly remark the small differences with our way of doing things. You would not even notice that the overarching concepts and many of the detailed procedures are fundamentally the same. Let us now review some of the notable naval customs and traditions: