As part of activities to mark the Presidential Fleet Review 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari inspected 16 ships belonging to the Nigerian Navy, as well as partnering naval ships from Ghana and Italy onboard the nation’s territorial waters.
Buhari carried out the review of the Nigerian Navy assets in Lagos today, even as he commended the during a grand occasion attended by Naval chiefs of several regional nations.
According to the President, his administration observed an inextricable link between maritime security and economic prosperity, hence, vigorously engaged in the recapitalisation of the Nigerian Navy fleet throughout his tenure.
“We have acquired over 20 capital ships for the Nigerian Navy. These ships comprise Offshore Patrol Vessels, Landing Ship Transport, Hydrographic Survey Vessels, Seaward Defence Boats and Helicopters as well as over 300 Inshore Patrol Vessels and Assault Craft.”
“During this Fleet Review, I had the honour to commission a new helicopter NN410 manufactured in Italy, NNS KADA, a Landing Ship Transport, built in Sharjah United Arab Emirates and NNS IBENO, donated by the Peoples Republic of China. I deeply appreciate the donation and mutual military cooperation with our ship building partner nations for their support, which has encouraged local ship building by the Nigerian Navy,” Buhari said.
Noting that piracy in country has reduced significantly over the past 7 years culminating to the delisting of Nigeria from the list of piracy prone countries by the International Maritime Bureau in March 2022, Buhari said the feat was attained via the application of technology to secure the maritime domain and better warships.
“I will particularly commend the diligent arraignment and persecution of MT HEROIC IDUN, sequel to the detection and arrest for attempting to load crude oil, offshore Bonny in August 2022 without authorisation amongst others. This successful conviction further confirms the navy’s resolve to protect resources for economic prosperity,” he said.
Meanwhile, he expressed delight that the Nigerian Navy efforts in indigenous shipbuilding in line with the nation’s local content development plan is yielding positive result.
“Our naval engineers were wholly responsible for building 3 Seaward Defence Boats namely NNS ANDONI, NNS KARADUWA and NNS OJI. In December 2021, I equally performed keel laying foundation for the construction of 2 Seaward Defence Boats, which will be ready by 2024. At this rate, I have no doubt that the Nigerian Navy will soon commence construction of larger ships for itself and other navies in the region and beyond. This achievement is a great pride to Nigeria and an impressive contribution to national development,” Buhari posited.
In his welcome address at the Fleet Review themed: “Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity,” the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, noted that the recapitalisation of the Naval fleet has enhanced the nation’s maritime security framework and repositioned it to effectively combat maritime crimes.
His words: “There is no better evidence to show than the record of drastic decline in piracy incidents in Nigerian waters as contained in the International Maritime Bureau Global Piracy Report of 14 July 2021. This culminated in delisting Nigeria from the International Maritime Bureau List of Piracy prone countries in March last year. These achievements are attributable to sustained presence of Nigerian Navy ships at sea, increased regional and international synergy as well as active maritime domain awareness.”
“To further bolster Nigerian Navy maritime security operations efforts, Mr President approved acquisition of additional vessels as well as several air assets. Currently under construction are 2 by 76m High Endurance Offshore Patrol Vessels in Turkey, 3 by 45m Fast Patrol Boats in France and 2 by Augusta Westland helicopters amongst others.”
According to Gambo, the 2023 Presidential Fleet Review is unique as it is organised in honour of a President who provided unprecedented support to the Nigerian Navy in terms of fleet recapitalization, infrastructural development and personnel welfare thereby boosting morale and fighting efficiency.
He opined that Nigerians can be proud of a well-equipped Navy courtesy of the unwavering commitment of President Buhari, while also noting another peculiar feature of the review to be the commissioning of a Landing Ship Transport, an Inshore Patrol Craft and one Augusta Westland Grand New light utility helicopter.