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Navy acquires 179 new boats, arrests 42 vessels for oil theft in 1 year

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Molly Kilete, Abuja

The Nigerian Navy said it acquired 179 new high speed boasts to tackle piracy, illegal bunkering and other insecurity in the nation’s maritime domain in the last one year. 

Chief of Naval Transformation, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo, who made this known, said  six out of the boats, which are ocean fast patrol brands, acquired from France, would be launched into the Nigerian waterways any moment from now.

Ibe-Enwo, at a media briefing, in Abuja, also announced the arrest of 42 vessels engaged in oil theft and other unwholesome practices in the nation’s waterways.

The navy transformation boss while noting that the briefing was part of actives lined up to mark the 62nd anniversary celebration of the Nigerian Navy schedule to hold May 23-June 1st, said it is also aimed at acquainting the public with the focus of the service.

According to him, “The Nigerian Navy recently acquired six OCEA Fast Patrol Boats from France which will be commissioned soon.

“It is my great pleasure to inform you that concomitantly, the Nigerian Navy also acquired a total of 173 assorted boats, including Epenal Boats, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, and Hydrographic Survey Boats in the last one year.

“These boats have gone a long way in bolstering Nigerian Navy  capacity to police and carry out survey of Nigeria’s maritime environment.”

On the arrested vessels, he said:” Available records show that in the last one year, the NN has sustained aggressive patrol within the nation’s maritime environment covering over 22,000 hours. In the process at least 42 vessels have been arrested for involvement in various illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain and undergoing various stages of investigations and prosecutions.”

“Furthermore, he explained that the Nigerian Navy personnel are involved in various Internal Security operations in the coastal states of the Federation and some other states including Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Plateau States amongst others.”

Ebe-Enwo, while noting that the Navy was aware of the current state of sooth over Port-Harcourt and environs, said “action is being taking to address this concern which is inclusive of stakeholders engagement and the establishment of a dedicated task force to address the matter. Very shortly the issue will be effectively dealt with, to bring lasting solution.

He said it was the desire of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas,to have an impressive naval fleet of operational ships, manned with competent and motivated personnel.

“Chief of the Naval Staff has placed a high premium and priority on training, motivation and availability of naval ships and helicopters. Currently, efforts are ongoing to enhance the quality of local training.

“This is being done through accreditation of Nigerian Navy training schools with relevant professional bodies and institutions of higher learning as well as upgrade of Nigerian Navy  training facilities, “he added.

“The Nigerian Navy  is simultaneously complementing the local training with foreign training. Also, plans are underway to enhance motivation of the personnel through the introduction of additional welfare programmes such as the Micro Mortgage Finance Cooperative Bank and construction of more barracks accommodation for the naval personnel and their families.”

The Chief of Naval Transformation said there has been enhanced surveillance over the country’s  maritime environment in recent times.

“This has been made possible through upgrade of available maritime surveillance equipment, which includes the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye systems.”

“Accordingly, the Nigerian Navy  has nine Regional Maritime Awareness Capability, RMAC sites established at Badagry, Bonny, Naval Base Apapa, Ibaka, Brass, FOB FORMOSO, NHQ as well as  the Headquarters of the Eastern and Central Naval Commands.

“Similarly, the Nigerian Navy  is working towards increasing its Falcon Eye system from nine sites at present to 12. When completed, these facilities will enable the Nigerian Navy expand its surveillance coverage of Nigeria’s maritime domain, with more effective check on illegality, “he further explained.

While noting that the recapitalization of the Nigerian Navy fleet had been a top priority consideration of the Chief of the Naval Staff,Ibe-Enwo said it had adopted a double-pronged strategy towards achieving this objective.

Hear him, “On one hand, ships are being acquired from some foreign countries while on the other hand, the Nigerian Navy is complementing with local construction of ships and boats.

“In addition, defective Nigerian Navy ships are being refitted at the Naval Dockyard Limited Victoria Island Lagos and the Naval Shipyard Limited Port Harcourt to ensure their availability.”

On exercises and operations carried out so far by the navy,

“The NN successfully conducted the 2018 edition of Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS from 22–27 Mar 2018 off the coast of Bonny, Brass and Lagos. The multi-national exercise was aimed at enhancing cooperation, information-sharing and prosecution of trans-border maritime crimes by member-states of the Gulf of Guinea.

” Four NN ships and 2 Agusta helicopters participated in the exercise alongside some naval ships and Maritime Patrol Aircraft from France, Portugal and the United States of America. In addition, elements of the NN Special Boat Service carried out boarding operations during the exercise. It might interest you to know that in addition to the NN, 30 foreign countries from Africa, Europe and America took part in Ex OBANGAME EXPRESS 2018.

“The maritime exercise has assisted the NN in reducing the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea since its inception in 2011.”

“Locally, the Nigerian Navy has been unrelenting in its operations to protect the nation’s maritime environment against all forms of threats to the country’s interests. In this regard, the NN routinely carries out surveillance and patrol of the maritime area with available surveillance systems, ships and helicopters.

“Such policing operations are specifically aimed at checking crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, piracy/sea robbery and illegal fishing among others. OP TSARE TEKU and RIVER SWEEP are ongoing operations to address illegalities in the Blue and Brown waters respectively.  I am delighted to inform you that in spite of daunting challenges, the NN is encouraged by the success it has recorded so far.

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