NNS Unity arrives in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s latest naval acquisition, the NNS Unity, has arrived home after a two month long journey from China.

The vessel arrived in Lagos on 4 November, having left China on 21 September, and was escorted into harbour by the two locally built Seaward Defence Boats NNS Andoni and NNS Karaduwa. NNS Unity made port calls in five African and Asian countries: Port Klang in Malaysia, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Port Louis in Mauritius, Simon’s Town in South Africa and Luanda in Angola. She left Simon’s Town on 25 October and stopped in Luanda, Angola, at the beginning of this month.

The Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas said that “Now that we have NNS Unity in Lagos, we expect the Navy to up its game. We expect the Navy to show more presence at sea. Being here will boost the capacity of the Navy to keep surveillance over our waters. Like you are aware, we have the incidence of piracy. The ship will be able to also curtail such threats. Furthermore we talk about illegal fishing in our waters, these are threats the new ship will be able to combat.”

NNS Unity is one of two P-18N corvettes ordered from China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) tasked with assisting Nigeria in combating maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea and making the Nigerian Navy more effective at responding to maritime challenges in the country’s waters.

Delivery of NNS Unity was delayed, with its arrival originally scheduled for the end of last year. The first P18N, NNS Centenary, arrived in Nigeria on 6 February 2015. NNS Centenary was built in China and NNS Unity built in China but it is to have the majority of its outfitting 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 is 70 sailors and endurance 20 days with a range of 3 000 nautical miles at 14 knots. They can carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.



Pic: Allan Roy.