The Nigerian Navy on Thursday commissioned dozens of new vessels and aircraft during a ceremony attended by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos. This included indigenously built boats.
Highlights of the ceremony included the commissioning of the third locally built Seaward Defence Boat (NNS Oji) and the keel laying of the fourth and fifth boats at the Naval Dockyard. The first (NNS Andoni) was launched in 2012 and the second (NNS Karaduwa) in 2016.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said the event marked another milestone in the history of the Nigerian Navy. He further stated that with the experience garnered so far, the Naval Dockyard Limited is adequately poised to take on the challenge in pursuit of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Local Content Development effort.
South Africa’s Paramount division Nautic Africa is believed to have assisted the Naval Dockyard with delivering the third Seaward Defence Boat. The Nigerian Navy has acquired a number of rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) from Paramount in the past.
Other vessels commissioned on 9 December included two Damen FCS 4008 patrol vessels (NNS Kano and NNS Ikenne), two Aresa 1700 inshore patrol boats, four Manta Mk II fast patrol craft, two FPB 110 fast patrol boats (NNS Sokota and NNS Aba), an FPB 72 Mk II fast patrol boat (NNS Osun), and dozens of RHIBs. On the aviation side, a Leonardo Helicopters AW139 was also commissioned.
The Damen vessels were built by Damen Song Cam shipyard in Vietnam and were delivered around June/July this year. The FCS 4008 Patrol features Damen’s Sea Axe design for improved seakeeping. This enables top speeds of 29 knots and a range of over 2 000 nautical miles in sea states that Damen says would slow down other vessels of the same size. The FCS 4008 is just over 40 metres long and has a 140m² aft deck and can be used for transporting personnel and cargo.
The Aresa boats are part of four that were completed by the Spanish company for the Nigerian Navy. The first (P494) was launched in April and Aresa said in September that the boats had been shipped. The Aresa 1700 (Fighter II class) is built from aluminium and is 17 metres long, with each vessel displacing 7.6 tons. The type is powered by two MTU engines delivering 1 250 hp, giving a top speed in excess of 40 knots. A RHIB can be carried at the rear of the vessel and launched by what Aresa calls its vertical launching system.
Malaysia’s Northern Shipyard completed the four Manta Mk II craft in December 2020 after receiving a contract from Suncraft International. They were delivered to Nigeria at the beginning of this year. The Nigerian Navy is a repeat customer for the Manta Mk II and by 2013 had taken 22 of the 17 metre long vessels into service. The Suncraft International Manta Mk II is powered by two 1 200 hp diesel engines, giving a top speed of between 45 and 50 knots.
France’s Ocea has supplied a large number of vessels to Nigeria, including the hydrographic survey ship NNS Lana. In October, Ocea announced that the Nigerian Navy had ordered a 35 metre hydrographic survey vessel (OSV 115 SC-WB).
Over the last eight years Ocea has supplied one FPB 98 Mk I patrol vessel, eight FPB 72 Mk II, two FPB 110 and two FPB 110 Mk II patrol vessels to Nigeria in addition to four C-Falcon interceptors. The FPB 110s NNS Sokota and NNS Aba were delivered at the end of 2020 along with the first two C-Falcons.
Gambo said the newly commissioned vessels will be deployed for surveillance and patrol duties within Nigerian territorial waters. President Buhari for his part reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to properly equip the Nigerian Navy with the right mix of platforms. He added that given Nigeria’s present high dependence on oil and gas revenues, the Navy is undeniably a major contributor to the economic well-being of the country.
The President also commended the Nigerian Navy’s effort in the fight against maritime crimes in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea region and noted the arrests of those involved in illegalities has yielded results as some pirates, illegal bunkering syndicates, pipeline vandals and other criminals have been convicted during the year. He attributed these successes to the enforcement of Nigeria’s new anti-piracy law on Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act 2019.