The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, today Wednesday flagged off the 2022 edition of the Exercise Grand African NEMO to boost maritime security in Gulf of Guinea.
The exercise was flagged off onboard the Nigerian Navy Ship Centenary at the Naval Dockyard Jetty in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Navy Exercise for Maritime Operations (NEMO) which will hold until Oct. 16 is an annual exercise coordinated by the French Navy and the Yaounde Maritime Architecture, in the last five years.
The exercise, which would be undertaken through different modes of operation, aims at supporting the efforts of regional navies, with a view to countering different criminal activities in the maritime domain.
Speaking during the flag-off, the CNS, who was the Officer Commanding Exercise, expressed confidence of the Nigerian Navy’s readiness to provide leadership for the combat operations to be undertaken together with other navies.
Gambo spoke on the assets that the Nigerian Navy would be deploying for the exercise, said “the Nigerian Navy will be deploying four ships, two helicopters, elements of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service and maritime domain awareness assets for this year’s exercise.”
He highlighted the importance of the 2022 exercise, considering how global security demands have grown, thus looking at the fact that the Gulf of Guinea is becoming more strategic not just due to its enormous resources, but as a major sea lane of commerce and communication.
Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, said it was “therefore important that Gulf of Guinea Nations build and improve capacities to secure the maritime route transiting the Gulf of Guinea.”
The CNS, however, expressed hope that the Exercise would positively impact on Nigerian Navy’s readiness for combat operations and expose other maritime-related agencies to the benefits of interagency cooperation and international collaboration.
He also said that the efforts of the Nigerian Navy and the various exercises conducted with regional and international partners have helped to enhance Nigeria’s maritime security and the Gulf of Guinea at large.
Earlier, the Officer in Tactical Command, Commodore EB Duke, said the Nigerian Navy was prepared for the exercise with the deployment of the four ships, two helicopters and other supporting maritime domain awareness assets.
Addressing Newsmen shortly before the ship cast off, Admiral Wambai said that while the exercise was geared towards enhancing the operations and collaborative efforts of both the Nigerian Navy and other Gulf of Guinea Navies and their international partners, the essence is to continue to keep the Gulf of Guinea and host Nations’ waters as safe as possible.
Wambai also expressed confidence that “Once we are able to have this under the Yaounde Architecture, we believe that we will continue to see Nigerian waters becoming more piracy-free.
The FOC said other Nations will also have a similar trend as they continue to do this.
“By and large, at the end of the day, we expect to have safe seas that are open to commerce and communication.” He said.