Transferred US cutter in good condition: Nigeria

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The Nigerian Navy (NN) says the US Coast Guard cutter it received last month is in good condition, even though it came into service 42 years ago. Nigeria took possession of the former Coast Guard Cutter Chase (WHEC-718) on May 13.

“The life of a ship is not determined by its age but by the quality of maintenance as well as modernisation programmes and the state of the equipment on board,” the NN’s chief of policy and plans, Rear Admiral James Oladimeji, told journalists in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, late last month.

The ex-Chase has been recommisioned as the NNS Thunder. The Hamilton class High Endurance Cutter was laid down on October 26, 1966 at Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans; launched on May 20, 1967 and commissioned on March 11, 1968. The 115m, 3250-ton cutters is armed with a 76mm OTO Melera gun and decommissioned on March 29 this year. She was transferred as an excess defence article under the US Foreign Assistance Act.
“She is in good condition and equipped with four main engines, both diesel and gas turbine. In line with the US maintenance standards, she has within the past two decades undergone major life extension refits which in every sense makes her a new ship by operational performance standards. The money paid to the US government for the ship was used to refit the ship before her transfer,” Oladimeji said.

He added that the Nigerian Navy, founded on June 1, 1956 with “some men seconded from the marine department of the Nigerian Ports Authority” has grown “and now operates modern missile carrying ship and helicopters.”

Oladimeji said the NNPC has donated 10 transport vessels to the Navy to enhance operations in the Niger Delta. The navy has also established new base in Lokoja known as NNS Lugard and another in Ikot Abasi known as NNS Jubilee.

The Deputy Defence Adviser at the Nigeria Embassy, Washington DC, Navy Captain Adefemi Kayode, said the ship would sail to Nigeria in July and its Nigerian crew has been undergoing further training since May 16. Kayode also defended the age of the cutter and its sea-worthiness, the Daily Trust reports, saying “it is all about the culture of maintenance; if you have a ship of 1960 that is well maintained, there is no problem.”



The class has a crossing range of 9600 nautical miles (17,800km) at 20 knots (40km/h). Top speed is 28 knots. Fitted with a 24m flight deck – but no hangar – the ship is capable of handling a medium helicopter.