Written by Guy Martin
The Nigerian Navy will take delivery of a number of new vessels next year as it attempts to reduce maritime crime, oil theft and attacks on ships, according to its recently released Strategic Guidance document.
Vice Admiral Dele J Ezeoba, Chief of Naval Staff, said that on assuming office in October 2012, he was committed to repositioning the Nigerian Navy, improving capability for internal security and policing the Gulf of Guinea. As a result, a first Chief of Naval Staff Strategic Guidance document (CNS SG-01) was issued in October last year.
According to Ezeoba, 90% of SG-01‚Äôs objectives have been completed. Significant progress has been made on fleet reactivation and recapitalisation, with the availability of operational vessels increasing from 35% to 70% within a year, according to SG-02, released late last month.
Over the last year the Nigerian Navy took delivery of three OCEA patrol boats, three Manta Fast Patrol Boats and two Shaldag patrol craft. Construction is ongoing on two Chinese offshore patrol vessels, one of which will be built in China and the other to be completed at the Naval Shipyard in Nigeria. Nigeria‚Äôs naval dockyard is also building a 38 metre Seaward Defence Boat. The Navy is also refitting the NNS Ekun fast attack craft, NNS Ohue and NNS Barama minesweepers and will soon refit the NNS Yola and NNS Brass patrol craft. In addition, three inshore patrol craft will be reactivated.
On the operational side, the Nigerian Navy continued with patrols and reactivated a number of Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centres and is setting up new sites to improve its maritime domain awareness. Operational successes listed for the previous year up to October 2013 included the apprehension of 33 vessels and 2 278 suspects over oil theft, the destruction of 2 417 illegal oil refineries, 137 barges and 2 032 boats, according to SG-02.
While Ezeoba said that the Navy can be proud of its achievements over the last year, there is room for improvement, hence the creation of SG-02. The Navy wants to clamp down on problems like oil theft, illegal oil bunkering, piracy, robbery at sea and attacks on ships. Ezeoba stated that solving these problems is necessary for Nigeria‚Äôs economic prosperity, as it relies heavily on its offshore and onshore oil reserves.
Strategic Guidance 02 expands on the previous document‚Äôs objectives, notably improving Navy capacity and domestic and regional security. Short term goals to be accomplished in the next six months include acquiring five K13 inshore patrol vessels, ensuring operational availability of at least four Navy helicopters, establishing a Fishery Protection Patrol Squadron in collaboration with the agriculture ministry, Nimasa and other stakeholders, and improving Navy logistics and training.
Medium term goals (over the next 12 months) include the acquisition of the ex-US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Gallatin, the completion and commissioning of the first Chinese-built OPV and domestic assembly of the second Chinese OPV, commissioning of the second domestic Seaward Defence Boat, completion of the refit of NNS Brass and NNS Yola and the refit of the frigate NNS Aradu, the fast attack craft NNS Siri, Ayam and Damisa. The refit of the fast patrol boat NNS Ekpe, Ekun and minesweepers NNS Ohue and NNS Barama are also expected to be completed in this period.
‚ÄúAll hands must be on deck to ensure the attainment of the objectives set out in this Strategic Guidance 02 in fulfilment of the desired end state of defending and protecting Nigeria‚Äôs territorial integrity whilst contributing to the economic prosperity and national development of Nigeria,‚Äù Ezeoba concluded.