Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will today commission Nigeria’s first locally produced warship, the NNS Andoni, at the Nigerian Naval Dockyard in Lagos.
The 31 metre long Nigerian Navy Seaward Defence Boat had its keel laid at the Naval Dockyard in December 2007, with full construction beginning in January the following year, according to Nigerian media. Between January 2008 and April 2009 the superstructure and shell were completed, but construction was delayed due to funding issues until Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral OS Ibrahim approved extra funding.
Ibrahim late last month said that the vessel was “the first warship constructed locally in the West African subregion.” He added that it was a bold step taken by the Navy as part of the governments’ transformation agenda.
The vessel was conceived as a research and development project by Vice Admiral GTA Adekeye and Rear Admiral GJ Jonah, who were at the time Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Naval Engineering respectively.
The NNS Andoni is believed to be inspired by the 35 metre Argungu class patrol craft (NNS Argungu, NNS Yola, NNS Bras, NNS Epe) supplied by West Germany in the 1970s.
Jonathan is also expected to lay the keel of a second Seaward Defence Boat, according to Field Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Olufemi Ogunjimi. The Nigerian Navy is expected to receive nearly two dozen new acquisitions under this year’s defence budget.
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.
Jonathan recently approved the purchase of two new 1 800 t Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Nigerian Navy, which will use them mainly 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.
The contract for the two OPVs was signed on April 18 this year, with China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Limited, the trade arm of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC). The first will be built in China while around 70% of the second one will be built in Nigeria in order to enhance local capability through technology transfer. They will be delivered in around three years time.
The OPVs will be 95 metres long, with a draft of 3.5 metres. They will be powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines, giving a speed of 21 knots per hour, and will be armed with one 76 mm and two 30 mm guns. Crew complement will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.
The 2012 Defence Budget Proposal 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 million), 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. Delivery is expected this month.
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.
The Nigerian Navy has been allocated N69 billion (US$433 million) under this year’s budget while the Army has been allocated N122 billion (US$766 million), and the Air Force N64 billion (US$402 million), reports the Nigerian Budget Office. The navy has about 7 000 personnel.