The Nigerian Navy put on its best face for the Chief of Naval Staff Sea Inspection ‘Nchekwa Oshimili’ 2023 exercise, which commenced late last week in Onne, Rivers State.
The four-day sea inspection, which ran from 24-27 November, is an annual exercise to assess the operational capabilities of the naval fleet.
Taking part in the exercise were 13 naval ships, 88 smaller naval craft, two helicopters, four operational bases, 4 000 naval personnel and two units of the navy’s Special Boat Service, Nigeria’s elite special naval service.
On board the Nigerian Navy ship Kada was the Minister of State for Defence, Muhammad Bello Matawalle, who instructed the officers and men of the navy to continue their good work in ensuring the Gulf of Guinea remains safe for economic activities.
The minister praised the navy for its impressive performance in maintaining maritime security along Nigeria’s coast.
“The operational activities of the Nigerian Navy within the last three months under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Staff have received varying degrees of success,” Matawalle said.
“I am aware of other operations and robust efforts through patrols and surveillance that the Navy is carrying out to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for economic prosperity and national development.”
He said it was thanks to the activities of the navy that there has been what he called a “drastic reduction of maritime crime”, leading to improved economic activities.
In particular, he pointed out that oil production has increased in recent times, which he said is testament to the effectiveness of the Nigerian Navy’s operations.
“Exercise Nchekwa Oshimili will further bolster the existing operations towards enhancing security in our waters,” the minister said.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, said in his welcome address that it is significant that the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) reports have delisted Nigeria from the IMB List of piracy-prone nations.
“Also, reports from other regional maritime awareness centres have also indicated improvements in legitimate shipping activities due to a reduction in the crime rate in Nigeria’s waters,” he said.
This exercise, he added, was designed to improve cooperation and intelligence sharing towards enhancing the collective capabilities of maritime stakeholders against maritime crimes.
Admiral Ogalla said the inspection would take place in the nation’s maritime environment as well as in the Gulf of Guinea, a major sea lane for commerce and communication.