How Nigerian Navy is boosting fleet and infrastructure for maximum output

CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that the Nigerian Navy recently added more equipment in pursuant of the Chief of the Naval Staff vision and mission for the Service.

Recently, the Nigerian Navy took delivery of the first of four C-Falcon interceptors after sea trials were conducted. Three other vessels will be delivered shortly, Ocea, the renowned ship builder disclosed..

Ocea, a renowned shipbuilder also won three tenders for two additional FPB 110, one OSV 190 SC-WB and four C-Falcon vessels. The two additional 35 metre FPB 110 boats will be delivered by year-end.

“Thanks to the continuous integrated logistic support Ocea has implemented for the Nigerian Navy, the fleet is daily on operation to the full satisfaction of the customer.”

Ocea said the C-Falcon is designed for escort, patrol and offensive missions, including boarding operations and personnel insertion.

Ocea on 24 September launched the 60 metre OSV 190 hydrographic survey vessel for the Nigerian Navy, the Lana, two years after the contract was placed. The new vessel was conceived as a replacement for the Nigerian Navy survey vessel NNS Lana, which was decommissioned about ten years ago. Construction began in 2018, with the Lana expected to join the Nigerian Navy fleet in 2021.

The Ocea OSV 190 SC-WB design will allow for coastal and deep sea scientific research and studies (hydrography, oceanography), fishing control, surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone, assistance and supplies to other boats and the towing of ships, Ocea said.

The contracts with Ocea adds to several efforts directed at fleet renewal, logistics and infrastructural development which aims to achieve the Strategic Directive 1 of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, which focuses on 8 key priority areas to be achieved by the Nigerian Navy under his command.

Under the Buhari Administration, the Nigerian Navy witnessed extensive procurement of platforms of different types and mix. The government funded the procurement of over 270 flat bottomed, assault, rigid hull, riverine patrol and whaler boats. Importantly, about 170 of these riverine patrol boats were built in-country, thus complementing indigenous shipbuilding capacity, employment generation and skills acquisition.

Following the successful commissioning of a second locally built Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) NNS KARADUWA in 2016, local-shipbuilding is being further enhanced through the indigenous construction of a 43m SDB and two logistic supply vessels which are programmed to join the Service later this year 2020.

The Service has recently recorded notable milestones through capacity building in indigenous navigational chart production with the production of 2 indigenous navigational charts covering parts of Nigerian waters as well as operational charts covering the entire Niger Delta region. The Service has also commenced work on the production of electronic versions of these charts to facilitate their formal validation internationally and eventual release. This proficiency has enhanced operational activities across the Nation’s maritime environment, particularly within the backwaters. Importantly, such improved hydrographic capacity has immensely contributed to enhancing the maritime business environment, as evidenced in about 30 per cent improvement in the Nation’s maritime trade in the past years as well as increased oil and gas production

The Nigerian Navy has also deployed 12 Naval Security Stations along the nation’s coastline in areas prone to illegalities under the Choke Point Regime and Control operations. Additionally, the Buhari administration facilitated the procurement of 25 fast attack craft, seaward defence boats and inshore patrol craft.

Furthermore, 1 survey ship, 1 offshore patrol vessel and 1 landing ship tank are being expected to join the Nigerian Navy fleet soon while 1 AW 139 Leonardo helicopter has already been delivered to the Service. Similarly, the NN built 2 self-propelled barges, 3 tug boats and acquired a total of 168 outboard engines with their spares.

Cumulatively, the fleet renewal effort of the Nigerian Navy under the Buhari administration has led to the procurement of well over 300 platforms of various types and mix.

The present leadership of the Navy has also embarked on laudable infrastructural development.

Notably, over 400 construction and related projects have been undertaken from 2015 – October 2020 with over 80 per cent of these projects completed and others are at various stages of completion.

A key infrastructural project is the reconstruction of NNS BEECROFT Jetty Apapa, Lagos which provides berthing facility for the bulk of Nigerian Navy ships within the Western Naval Command area of responsibility. Jetties at Naval Shipyard Limited Port Harcourt, Under Water Warfare School Ojo, NOP KOLUAMA and other Forward Operating Bases are at various stages of completion.

The activation of Joint Venture between the Nigerian Navy and China Ship Building and Offshore International Limited for the construction of an integrated workshop at Nigerian Naval Shipyard and provision of floating dock has further boosted Nigerian Navy’s infrastructural capacity to build and maintain its platforms.

Housing and Barracks development has received a touch. The Nigerian Navy has also within the period under review engaged in the extensive housing development for personnel accommodation and other welfare projects.

These include the construction of over 2,500 housing units across the country, several of which have been completed and commissioned. Some completed projects include hundreds of Compressed Earth Bricks buildings at Atimbo Barracks in Calabar, Kuje Barracks in Abuja and NNS LUGARD in Lokoja.

Others include various units of accommodation for officers and ratings at Kubwa, Navy Town Asokoro Abuja and Navy Town Lagos. Institutional houses are also under construction for Commanders and Chief Boatswain Mates of operational commands as well as armouries, sports centres and worship centres at most Nigerian Navy bases, Forward Operating Bases and Nigerian Navy schools.

The Nigerian Navy also commissioned the Naval Base in Lokoja and a 150 units barracks in Banda, Lokoja, Kogi State.

Mr President commissioned an ultramodern Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital in Calabar in 2018, after 40 years of neglect. This includes the installation of Endoscope Suite at the Hospital to attend to critical surgical needs using 21st Century equipment that ensure minimal access/invasive procedure. The Service has also constructed an Imaging Centre at Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital Ojo, Lagos and upgraded Nigerian Navy hospitals in Warri and Port Harcourt with modern diagnostic equipment.

The Nigerian Navy has also established a COVID-19 Treatment and Isolation Centre on 1 Jun 20 in Lagos to cater for NN personnel infected with the virus, in support of the national effort

The fleet renewal, infrastructural development etc have gone a long way to boost operations of the Nigerian Navy. This has manifested in the intensified clamp down on oil thieves, patrol and protection of our territorial waters, anti-piracy operations, checking illegal fishing etc.

The Nigerian Navy has also in the last 4 years reduced the incidences of illegalities, maritime insecurity and piracy in the Nigerian maritime space and within the Gulf of Guinea.

In appreciation, the CNS during the 2021 budget presentation by the Nigerian Navy in Abuja, commended the Federal Government for boosting the moral of the Navy with purchase of requisite weaponry and other equipment needed to combat criminality on the sea.

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