NNS Unity, the Nigerian Navy’s second and final P18N offshore patrol vessel (OPV), has departed China and is scheduled to arrive in Nigeria at the beginning of November.
NNS Unity departed China on 21 September, according to the Nigerian Navy, and will make numerous port calls to friendly nations on the way home. She was handed over in a departure ceremony attended by Naval Chief of Policy and Plans Rear Admiral Jacob Ajani.
Ajani said NNS Unity would assist Nigeria in combating maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea and would make the Nigerian Navy more effective at responding to maritime challenges in the country’s waters.
Delivery of NNS Unity was delayed, with its arrival originally scheduled for the end of last year. The first P18N, NNS Centenary, built by China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC), arrived in Nigeria on 6 February 2015.
In April this year Defence Minister Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali had visited CSOC in China and pledged to “to resolve the issue with the second offshore patrol vessel they are building for Nigeria and agree on a timeline of delivery”.
Two P18Ns were ordered, with NNS Centenary being built in China and NNS Unity built in China but having the majority of its outfitting done in Nigeria in order to develop the indigenous shipbuilding industry and alleviate unemployment. CSOC has been contracted to upgrade the Nigerian Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt so that it can build vessels 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 1 800 ton Chinese offshore patrol vessels 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. They 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 is 70 sailors and endurance 20 days with a range of 3 000 nautical miles at 14 knots. They can carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.