The first of the Nigerian Navy’s two new P-18N offshore patrol vessels, NNS Centenary, has arrived home in Lagos after its voyage from the shipyard in China where it was built.
The vessel, with pennant number F91, was handed over to the Nigerian Navy in China at the end of November last year. She sailed from the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company‘s (CSOC’s) Wuchang Shipyard in Wuhan in December. On her delivery voyage she ported in several countries along the way, including South Africa, with a stay in Simon’s Town that lasted from January 28 to 30.
NNS Centenary arrived at the Nigerian Navy dockyard, Victoria Island, in Lagos on February 6 and was received by the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin. He said the vessel would greatly help the Navy’s fight against maritime crime like piracy, illegal fishing, oil theft and smuggling.
“The addition of the offshore patrol vessel to the NN [Nigerian Navy] fleet would definitely enhance the navy’s capacity to execute her constitutional roles and open a new vista in Nigeria-China relations.
“Effective security is a pre-requisite for the economic wellbeing of Nigeria in view of the country’s heavy dependence on the sea. I am glad to acknowledge that President Goodluck Jonathan recognises this imperative and has given unprecedented support to the fleet recapitalisation pillar of the NN transformation plan for the period 2010-2020. The arrival of NNS Centenary in Nigeria bears testimony to the commitment and resolve of the president to emplace a strong and virile navy capable of protecting Nigeria’s maritime interests against all forms of threats,” Jibrin said.
He said the second P-18N, NNS Unity, would arrive later this year with the majority of outfitting being 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 will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days with a range of 3 000 nautical miles at 14 knots. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.