David Animle Hansen, who played a pioneering role in the development of the Ghana Navy, was born in the city of Accra. At the time, Accra and the remainder of present-day Ghana were under British rule as the colony of the Gold Coast along West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.
Hansen underwent military training at the Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School in England. He was then commissioned as an army officer in the Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force. The Gold Coast achieved independence as the sovereign commonwealth realm of Ghana in 1957; it became the Republic of Ghana three years later.
In 1959, the Ghana Army was formed from the Gold Coast Regiment. That same year, the new nation’s navy was established with men who had served in the infantry unit of the Gold Coast Regiment. Captain Archibald George Forman, a retired British naval officer, led the Ghana Navy as its first chief of the naval staff and was granted the rank of commodore in a presidential commission. In 1961, however, Forman’s tenure came to an end and Hansen was transferred from the army to replace him as chief of the naval staff.
As the first Ghanaian to serve in the role, Hansen was instrumental in further building the Ghana Navy’s resources and strength. Along with helping to provide for Ghana’s military defense, the navy also carries out such other maritime functions as combating piracy and other criminal pursuits out at sea, conducting surveillance of fishing activities, performing emergency evacuations in trouble spots, undertaking search-and-rescue operations, and participating in various humanitarian relief missions.
Hansen, who attained the rank of rear admiral, remained in service as chief of the naval staff until 1967. He died in 2008 at the age of 84. The Ghana Navy patrol vessel GNS Hansen was named after him.