Damen Shipyards has launched a new Landing Ship Tank (LST) for the Nigerian Navy at Damen’s facility in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. When commissioned, it will replace two LSTs that were retired over a decade ago.
The Nigerian Navy said the new vessel (LST 1314) was launched on 7 June after nearly two years of construction and will bolster the Nigerian Navy’s sealift capability. Specifically, it will enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency, the Nigerian Navy said.
“Furthermore, the vessel will serve as a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond. In its secondary role, the LST will play a critical role in the protection of maritime assets and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce, peace and safety.”
The new LST has a complement of 32 crew and 250 embarked persons and a length of 100.08 metres. She is powered by two Caterpillar/Cat 3516 C-rating engines (1 650-3386 hp each) and four Caterpillar C-18 generators. The vessel has an endurance of 15 days/4 000 nautical miles at 15 knots and a maximum speed of 16 knots. If she is to be used for humanitarian missions/evacuation, she can accommodate over 450 persons on the upper and lower decks on short trips.
The 1 300 ton LST has a bow ramp that allows for the direct transfer to and from beaches and is rated to 70 tonnes. The internal ramp is rated at 30 tonnes and the stern ramp 70 tonnes. The vessel can carry two embarked LCVPs (landing craft, vehicle, personnel), a helicopter/UAV on the flight deck, unmanned undersea vehicles and miscellaneous cargo with a 25 ton deck crane.
The LST’s keel was laid on 9 December 2019 after the Nigerian Navy and Damen Shipyards signed the contract for the vessel in June that year. The Nigerian Navy launched the procurement process in December 2017, which attracted b9ids from Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, Anadolu Deniz of Turkey and Indian Shipyards GOA of India.
The Nigerian Navy said that over the last two years, several Factory Acceptance Tests with regards to various components of the LST 100 were jointly and successfully completed by the Nigerian Navy and Damen Shipyards. Most notable among these was the main propulsion engines being tested in 2019/2020 and the Remote Weapon system being successfully tested in March 2021.
The new vessel will replace the landing ships NNS Ambe and NNS Ofiom, which were decommissioned ten years ago. They were Type 502 amphibious vessels built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Germany in 1978. These vessels served the Navy well in the 1980s-90s, playing significant roles during the ECOMOG intervention Operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as other peace support operations.
The acquisition of the LST is the latest for the Nigerian Navy, which most recently received the hydrographic survey vessel NNS Lana from France’s Ocea on 17 May after it sailed from Saint Nazaire, France.
“In its drive to enhance the Nigerian Navy’s response capability, the present leadership of the Nigerian Navy under Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo is fully committed to acquiring more requisite mix of platforms for the Service,” the Navy said. “The renewed emphasis on fleet renewal by this administration is further underscored by ongoing efforts for procurement of another 35 metres survey vessel and three Leonardo helicopters.”
In an effort to boost operations, the Navy recently took delivery of four C-Falcon interceptors for Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service. In addition, 90 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) have been procured. “The NN has continued to engage local companies such as Messrs Epenal, Tuwasco and SEWA to build platforms for the Service. This has not only enhanced local content development but facilitated capacity building in Nigeria’s maritime industry.”