The Nigerian Navy (NN) has taken delivery of three new 17 metre-long Manta Mk II ASD Littoral Interceptors and one new 25 metre-long Shaldag Mk II Fast Patrol Craft to help the force battle rampant maritime crime.
The four boats were commissioned into service at the NNS Beecroft Naval Base on Victoria Island in Lagos last week by NN Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba. The commissioning event also included a tour of the facility where the navy is building the country’s second locally-made warship, a 38 metre-long Seaward Defence Boat (SDB), due for delivery in June next year.
The NN now has 22 of the 17 metre-long Manta Mk II ASD Littoral Interceptors while the number of Israeli-made Shaldag Fast Patrol Craft (FPC) vessels has increased to five. The first two Shaldag FPCs were delivered in 2009 while two more were commissioned into service in February this year.
The Shaldag design is in service with the Israeli Navy and other customers in Europe, Asia and Africa. It was developed and built by Israel Shipyards Ltd in the late 1980s but upgraded over the years based on combat experience. The type is powered by two diesel engines driving two water jets, which give an acceleration time to 40 knots of 40 seconds. The Shaldag Mk II has a length of 24.8 metres, a displacement of 58 tons and a range of 650 nautical miles.
Standard equipment on most Shaldag versions includes an X-band surveillance/navigation radar and electro-optical sensor system for day and night surveillance. A number of armament options are available, including fore and aft deck guns, and heavy machineguns on the fly bridge. The guns can be remotely controlled (such as the 23/25 mm Typhoon and 12.7/7.62 mm Mini-Typhoon) or manually operated. In addition, a 20-23 mm naval gun can be mounted on the rear gun mount or four to eight short range missiles can be carried.
The Suncraft International Manta Mk II is powered by two 1 200 hp diesel engines, giving a top speed between 45 and 50 knots. The 16.5 metre long vessels feature ballistic protection, carry a crew of six and have a range of 250 nautical miles at 35 knots.
The Nigerian government has scaled up the promotion of local defence procurement for the army, air force, navy and the police in a bid to spur the growth of the local defence industry.
Ezeoba said due to the success of the localisation programme, the NN factory has now developed the capacity to manufacture vessels ranging between 10 and 50 metres in length. “The Nigerian Navy will no longer buy a ship of between 10 and 50 meters in size, because we have the capacity and capability to build them in our dockyard,” he said.
He said the navy will start manufacturing warships and commercial vessels for the African market. Nigeria has also ordered two 1 800 ton P-18N offshore patrol vessels from the China Ship Building and Offshore International Co Ltd. The Type 056 platform vessels, which feature flight decks and aircraft hangars, are expected to be delivered between April and May 2014.
In August this year, the Nigerian Navy contracted Kelvin Hughes Surveillance to fit the vessels with tactical navigation and situational awareness radar systems.
Nigeria has also ordered two new OCEA FPB 98 Mk.II Coastal Patrol Craft and is expected to take delivery of two more ex-US Coastguard vessels, USNS John McDonnell and USCGC Gallatin, in due course.