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NN woos FG to acquire additional Offshore Patrol Vessels

With the visit of a French Navy Ship Gowind L’Adroit, an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) to Nigeria, the Nigerian Navy (NN) may have wooed the Federal Government to acquire a similar vessel for it operations.
Indication to this effect came to the fore when a Federal Government delegation boarded the ship, where a presentation was made to the delegation by the company that constructed the Gowind L’Adroit.
Speaking on the idea behind the visit of the Federal Government’s delegation to the ship last Thursday, Operations officer, Western Naval Command (WNC), Commodore Henry Babalola said that the NN had proposed to the government to purchase a similar vessel for its operations in view of the necessity of policing the nation’s waterways and enhancing naval presence.

In his words: “The idea is to convince the political masters to see the need for an offshore patrol vessel which the Navy has often reiterated at a lot of functions”.
He explained that while the first will be constructed in France, the others will be built in Nigeria by the naval dock yard thus making the country a hub for the construction of future OPV in the West Africa sub region.
“The package include us buying one directly from them with a technical support team from Nigeria that will understudy the construction while the second one will be built in Nigeria, in the process transferring technology and re-equipping the Nigerian naval dockyard. And if other African countries within the sub region will need to purchase such an OPV class of ship then the construction will be done in our dockyard, which means the Nigerian naval dockyard will now be the hub for the construction of future Offshore Patrol Vessels of that class for navies in the West Africa sub region,” he said.

Expressing his delight for the French Navy visit to the country for the third time, Babalola noted that the French navy is a more technological advanced navy that personnel of the Nigerian Navy stand to benefit from.
He stated that even with the acquisition of bigger vessels by the NN, more vessels are still required to patrol the country’s maritime domain considering the vast area of Nigeria’s territorial waters.
“The need to acquire a new patrol vessel is to complement the existing ones. We have bigger vessels but we can never have enough if you consider the expanse of sea space we are to patrol. We need an OPV with enough endurance that will spend about 10 to 14 days at sea, that have helicopter carrying capacity, which will improve surveillance at sea with a multi role function which include illegal crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and that which will help in enforcing customs and immigration laws in Nigeria. The more ships you have at sea, the more ability you have to react to emergencies and carrying out the navy constitutional roles,” he said.

Meanwhile the NN has said that it will continue to collaborate with other navies around the world to enhance the skills of its personnel.
Flag Officer Commanding, WNC, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda stated this last Wednesday when personnel of the French Navy Ship Gowind L’Adroit, who were on a port call to the country paid him a courtesy visit.
Ikioda noted that the visits of different countries’ navies will enabled the Nigerian Navy to key into new skills from the visiting navies with a view to securing the nation’s territorial waters.

“The benefits is that it has afforded us opportunities to train with them ,look at the modern technology onboard their ship with a view to incorporating such things in our own ships,” Ikioda said.
On his part, Commanding officer of the French Navy Ship, Commander Lote Guyot said the purpose of the visit to Nigeria is to exchange views with the NN while maintaining the existing ties between both countries.
On the capability of the ship, Guyot said that the ship was built by a French ship yard DCNS with an overall length of 87.5m with two diesel engines and a maximum speed of 21 knots which according to him will help in conducting maritime surveillance in an effective way.

Updated: 2nd October, 2012

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