The Nigerian Navy will be getting a new tank landing ship from Damen Shipyards in May 2020, with the keel laid on Monday during a ceremony at Damen’s shipyard in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, laid the keel of the Landing Ship Tank (LST 100) at Damen Shipyards Sharjah in the UAE.
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.
“Today’s ceremony is a significant step towards actualizing the dream of restoring the Nigerian Navy’s sea lift capability after the Service decommissioned two similar LSTs more than 10 years ago,” Ibas said.
“These vessels served the Navy meritoriously in the 1980s-90s, playing significant roles during the ECOMOG intervention Operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as other peace support operations in Lebanon.
“The Nigerian Navy’s acquisition of this LST 100 will certainly go a long way in filling the operational gap created by the decommissioning of the two Nigerian Navy ships. As you may be aware, the bid for this project was highly competitive, as several other shipbuilding companies tendered for her construction. Permit me, therefore, to congratulate Damen Shipyards on winning the bid for this project.”
Ibas pointed out that Damen Shipyards had already built two tugboats for the Nigerian Navy, the Dolphin Rima and Dolphin Mira, and these are still in service.
“The LST, when completed and delivered, is expected to play crucial roles in the security of Nigeria’s maritime environment and beyond,” Ibas said. “Specifically, the ship will be engaged in the protection of maritime resources and the preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce and maritime power projection in Nigerian Maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea at large.
“It is, therefore, my fervent belief that this Shipyard will complete the construction of the LST with all the attention and due diligence that it deserves, to rekindle our historic relationship and pave way for other areas of collaboration in the future.
“On this note, I would like to thank the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his untiring support for the rejuvenation of the NN fleet since assumption of office.”
In May this year, Ibas said the Nigerian Navy was negotiating with foreign shipyards for the acquisition of a 100 metre Landing Ship Tank. At the time, he said the Navy was looking at acquiring four 17 metre fast interceptor boats by November 2019 and was expecting the delivery of a hydrographic survey vessel in December 2019 (the 60 metre vessel will be delivered from France in 2020).
Efforts are ongoing to acquire more helicopters for the Nigerian Navy air arm. Between 2015 and 2019, Ibas said the Nigerian Navy had acquired two offshore patrol vessels, the NNS Centenary and NNS Unity from China, a second locally built Seaward Defence Boat (NNS Karaduwa), six OCEA patrol boats (NNS Nguru, Shiroro, Ekulu, Ose, Gongola and Calabar) and more than 200 riverine patrol boats.
According to Damen, the landing ship vessel has been designed for amphibious operations, transport and logistics but secondary tasks include maritime security operations, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, search and rescue (SAR), operations command, mine counter measure (MCM) and hydrographic survey operations and support.
The 1 300 ton LST 100 is 100 metres long, has a maximum speed of 16 knots and range at 15 knots of 4 000 nautical miles, with an endurance 15 days. A bow ramp 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. Crew is 18, but 27 additional personnel can be accommodated or 235 troops.