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Nigerian Navy commissions first locally built warship NNS Andoni

altNigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has commissioned the NNS Andoni, Nigeria’s first locally built warship, and laid the keel for a second Seaward Defence Boat, which will be commissioned next year.

The commissioning ceremony was held at the Nigerian Naval Dockyard in Lagos on Friday and formed part of the week-long 56th anniversary celebrations of the navy. Jonathan said that the locally built vessel was a sign of the improvement of Nigeria’s armed forces. “This is the beginning of transformation and I believe that in another 10-15 years, we will be thinking of starting a project of taking Nigeria to the air. We have just started and we will continue,” he said.

“With the current repositioning of the country…already, a number of things are now being fabricated locally. I was in Lagos recently to inaugurate one of such; equipment for drilling and marine are currently being built locally. This is the beginning of transformation. There cannot be transformation without a technological revolution in the nation; this is the beginning.”

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim, said the construction of the NNS Andoni (P100) was a landmark event for the Nigerian Navy and a contribution to Jonathan’s transformation agenda. “It is a testimony to our commitment to local content regime. We will not disappointment the nation,” he was quoted by Nigeria’s Punch as saying.

Ibrahim added that the vessel was built to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards and would be used to enhance security on Nigeria’s waterways.

The governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, said that the NNS Andoni was a sign that the Nigerian Navy was improving is operational readiness and becoming more professional, reports Nigeria’s Vanguard.

The 31 metre long Seaward Defence Boat had its keel laid at the Naval Dockyard in December 2007, with full construction beginning in January the following year, according to Nigerian media. Between January 2008 and April 2009 the superstructure and shell were completed, but construction was delayed due to funding issues until Ibrahim approved extra funding. It appears the NNS Andoni is armed with a 20 mm cannon, possibly the Suncraft Ralco.

The vessel was conceived as a research and development project by Vice Admiral GTA Adekeye and Rear Admiral GJ Jonah, who were at the time Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Naval Engineering respectively.

Jonathan also laid the keel of another Seaward Defence Boat, which will be commissioned in the next 18 months, according to Ibrahim. The Nigerian Navy is expected to receive nearly two dozen new acquisitions under this year’s defence budget.

Jonathan recently approved the purchase of two new 1 800 t Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Nigerian Navy, which will use them mainly for maritime surveillance, patrol and response tasks. Other roles of the vessels would be protection of offshore assets, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) patrol and surveillance, search and rescue and oil spill control.

The contract for the two OPVs was signed on April 18 this year, with China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Limited, the trade arm of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). The first will be built in China while around 70% of the second one will be built in Nigeria in order to enhance local capability through technology transfer. They will be delivered in around three years time.

The OPVs will be 95 metres long, with a draft of 3.5 metres. They will be powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines, giving a speed of 21 knots per hour, and will be armed with one 76 mm and two 30 mm guns. Crew complement will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.

The 2012 Defence Budget Proposal makes provision for three Shaldag Mk III fast patrol craft, three 24 metre coastal patrol craft and six 17 metre Manta Mk II ASD littoral interceptors (total cost N2.2 billion/US$13.7 million). In addition, the purchase of helicopter and ship spares will amount to N1.04 billion (US$6.5 million), according to Budget Office documents.

The FY2011 defence budget approved the acquisition of two offshore patrol vessels, the refurbishment of six coastal patrol craft by TP Marine and the delivery of nine Manta Mk II ASD craft.

French shipbuilder OCEA is building the three 24 metre coastal patrol craft and commenced sea trials of the first vessel on March 13. Delivery is expected this month.

The Suncraft Group is expected to construct the six Manta Mk II ASD vessels, bringing the total ordered over the last several years to 21. The Manta Mk II first entered service with the Nigerian Navy in 2008.

Nigeria’s Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea, according to Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim.

The Nigerian Navy has been allocated N69 billion (US$433 million) under this year’s budget while the Army has been allocated N122 billion (US$766 million), and the Air Force N64 billion (US$402 million), reports the Nigerian Budget Office. The navy has about 7 000 personnel.
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