One of the Nigerian Navy’s two new P-18N offshore patrol vessels has departed South Africa on its way home as it sails from its shipyard in China.
The ship was seen leaving False Bay on 30 January, after having arrived in Simon’s Town on January 28.
The vessel, with pennant number F91, was handed over to the Nigerian Navy in China at the end of November last year.
The first P-18N was launched by the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company on 27 January 2014 at Wuchang Shipyard in Wuhan, China.
The vessel was assigned the pennant number F91 (the pennant number F90 is assigned to the NNS Thunder, an ex-US Coast Guard cutter). The offshore patrol vessel’s launched ceremony also marked the hull formation ceremony of the second vessel, F92.
Only the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) will be built entirely in China as between 50 and 70% of the second ship will be constructed in Nigeria in an effort to enhance local shipbuilding capability and provide technology transfer.
China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) has also signed a contract to upgrade the Nigerian Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt so that it can build OPVs and maintain vessels up to 10 000 dwt. Upgrades to the dockyard include a new jetty, a new dry dock and other additions.
Nigeria ordered the two Chinese OPVs in April 2012 and construction began that October. The vessels are based on the Type 056 corvette in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The vessels are 95 metres long, with a draft of 3.5 metres. They are powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines, giving a speed of 21 knots, and are armed with one H/PJ26 76 mm and two H/PJ14 30 mm guns. Crew complement will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days with a range of 3 000 nautical miles at 14 knots. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.
The Nigerian Navy announced that the vessels would mainly to be used 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.
As Africa’s largest oil producer, Nigeria needs to combat the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea – last year a Nigerian Navy official estimated that piracy and smuggling cost the country $1.5 billion.