… As UK set to train Nigerian Navy on fight against piracy, others***
The Nigerian Navy, on Monday, took delivery of four ballistics gunboats to boost its fight against oil theft and sea robbery which has been commonplace in the Niger Delta.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Leo Irabor, said at the induction of the gunboats that the four armoured gunboats were built by the Naval Shipyard Limited (NSL), Port Harcourt.
According to him, the new platforms will provide the needed protection for troops patrolling the nation’s maritime environment to prevent internal and external threats.
“Unarguably, Nigeria’s maritime environment is a reservoir of natural resources, including oil and gas that constitute the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy.
“So, the protection of these resources is a priority for the Federal Government to sustain socio-economic activities and enhancement of peace and stability of the Niger Delta.
“At the core of our commitment is the provision of adequate logistics support to our troops deployed in the region and across the country,” he said.
Irabor said the inauguration of the gunboats, built locally, reaffirmed the resolve of the Armed Forces to clear all illegalities and criminalities at the nation’s maritime space.
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“So, this goes as a warning to all recalcitrant elements posing threats to peace and security of our maritime space that we are taking the war to them.
“The Defence Headquarters shall not relent in providing the needed resources to Operation Delta Safe, to ensure the security of the Niger Delta,” he said.
The defence chief said the headquarters had concluded plans to develop the nation’s Military Industrial Complex capability to meet its local defence needs.
He said the decision informed why the military body awarded the construction of the ballistic gunboats to the NSL.
“We took this decision to wean our country from over dependence on foreign military technology; boost our local technology base and conserve foreign exchange.
“I want to see an Armed Force of Nigeria that is capable of sustaining itself to a reasonable extent in terms of military hardware for land, maritime and even air operations,’ he said
Irabor said the defence headquarters would soon award another five units of armoured gunboats to the shipyard, to boost local production and improve naval presence at the waterways.
Taking delivery of the gunboats, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, said the NSL had the requisite manpower and expertise to construct ships, boats, barges and houseboats, among others.
He said the NSL, like the Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos, also rendered support services in the repairs and maintenance of platforms in the nation’s fleet.
“So, the construction of these semi ballistic gunboats is yet another milestone achievement by the NSL in the provision of necessary support to the ongoing efforts at combating maritime threats.
“The gunboats will bolster the operational capacity of the Joint Task Force SS Operation Delta Safe in the Niger Delta area.
“The engagement of NSL aligns with the Federal Government’s agenda of encouraging local content towards developing indigenous capacity, hence reducing dependency on external vendors,” he said.
According to Gambo, the navy will soon take delivery of a 43 metres Seaward Defence Boat III built by the naval dockyard in Lagos.
In another development, the UK Government on Monday said it would train more personnel of the Nigerian Navy in the fight against criminalities like piracy, drugs smuggling and other crime related activities.
Mr Ben Llewellyn-Jones, UK’s Deputy High Commissioner, said this while briefing journalists on board of HMS Trent, a British Warship, in Lagos.
The newsmen report that HMS Trent, a British Warship, is in Nigeria to participate in a French-led multinational training exercise, known as Exercise Grand African Nemo, that will bring together international partners in the region.
HMS Trent is the first Royal Navy vessel to operate in the region for three years.
Llewellyn said the training was a signal of UK commitment in strengthening the bilateral relations between both countries.
“Nigeria is an important and valued defence partner for the UK as both countries share threats and we are determined to defeat these and help improve maritime security in the area.
“We would be training the navy personnel on different strategies in combating piracy and other related issues as we believe that this would also help in bringing up various tactics in resolving insecurity in the region.
“We are keen to work with Nigeria to defeat all forms of threats and insecurity in the area and this is one of the steps in ensuring that happens,” he said.
Mr Thomas Knot, Commanding Officer, HMS Trent, noted that the Nigerian Navy would be trained in the fight against piracy and other crime related activities.
“As we all know, we are heading towards the dry season and this is the time where there are influx of pirates so it is of extreme importance that this training takes place.
“We would be conducting maritime security patrol as well as supporting partner navies by helping them to develop key maritime skills and develop plans for future operations in the region
“We are extremely proud and excited to commence this exercise and we are looking to working with regional partners and also engaging with local communities in an effort to strengthen security,” he said.