Nigeria takes delivery of security vessels

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The Nigerian Army has taken delivery of eight K-38 catamaran assault craft and eight refurbished Fast Attack Craft in an effort to bolster security on its waterways.

The Minister of State for Defence, Chief Olusola Obada inaugurated the vessels in Calabar late last month. Obada also inaugurated an ambulance and laid the foundation for a 140-man accommodation block at the Amphibious Training School (ATS), also at Calabar, according to Nigeria’s Business Day.

The K-38 catamaran is powered by two 350 horsepower engines, giving a speed of 55 knots and a cruising range of 110 nautical miles. The Fast Attack Craft have a speed of 55 knots and a range of 100 nautical miles. Each 12 metre long K-38, built by TP Marine of Holland, is armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machinegun.

Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, said that the inauguration of the K-38 vessels and Fast Attack Craft was an example of the strong emphasis the Army is placing on equipment.
“Indeed, it underscores the emphasis which we place on training, provision of infrastructure and enhanced capability, in line with my vision to transform the Nigerian Army into a force that is capable of meeting contemporary challenges,” said Ihejirika.

Nigeria’s Delta region faces a number of security threats, including kidnappings, sabotage, illegal bunkering and refining. “These factors underscore the need to improve and upgrade the Nigerian Army’s facilities. In that regard, there is a considerable focus on the Amphibious Training School, the only institution in the army that trains personnel in riverine and amphibious operations,” Ihejirika said.

According to the Army Chief of Staff, the fast attack craft were refurbished locally, “at a cost less than 30% of the cost proposed by foreign contractors. The eight units of Fast Assaults Craft, which had been unserviceable over the years, were recently refurbished by the ATS Engineers Boat Repair personnel.
“All the boats are capable of penetrating deep into the creeks, and based on our critical assessment of the security situation, the vessels would form the nucleus of the units that are to be established in the Niger Delta, in line with the approved NA ORBAT (Order of Battle) 2010,” Ihejirika said.
“The inauguration of these gunboats demonstrates the resolve of the Federal Government to continuously enhance the Army’s capacity, in line with global best practices,” Obada said. “It also places the Nigerian Army in a good stead to confront the myriad security challenges confronting the country, especially in the Niger Delta area.”

In strengthening its military capabilities, Nigeria has paid particular attention to improving security in the Niger Delta and off its 780 kilometre long coast, where it has numerous oil installations.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan recently approved the purchase of two new 1 800 ton Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Nigerian Navy as the service modernises and expands. The Nigerian Navy (NN) 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.

Nigeria’s Navy will be receiving nearly two dozen new acquisitions under the 2012 defence budget. The 2012 Defence Budget Proposal also makes provision for three Shaldag Mk III fast patrol craft, three 24 metre coastal patrol craft and six 17 metre Manta Mk II ASD littoral interceptors (total cost N2.2 billion/US$13.7 million). In addition, the purchase of helicopter and ship spares will amount to N1.04 billion (US$6.5 billion), according to Budget Office documents.

The FY2011 defence budget approved the acquisition of two offshore patrol vessels, the refurbishment of six coastal patrol craft by TP Marine and the delivery of nine Manta Mk II ASD craft.

French shipbuilder OCEA is building the three 24 metre coastal patrol craft and commenced sea trials of the first vessel on March 13.

The Suncraft Group is expected to construct the six Manta Mk II ASD vessels, bringing the total ordered over the last several years to 21. The Manta Mk II first entered service with the Nigerian Navy in 2008.

Nigeria’s Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea, according to Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim.