The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, wednesday in Lagos deployed the 39 newly produced gunboats and the second indigenous Seaward Defence Boat built locally by the Nigerian Navy (NN), to fight militancy and other maritime criminalities.
Asides the boats, the navy also inaugurated 45 operational vehicles to be shared among the commands and units of the navy to aid operational efficiency.
The acquired maritime platforms included 30 Epenal boats, three Wave Riders, six Arrow Heads, as well as NN pride, NNS Karaduwa, a 28.9 metres SDB, fabricated and built indigenously by personnel of the navy.
The Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mohammad Dan-Ali, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni, inaugurated the boats and the vehicles at the Naval Dockyard Limited and Western Naval Command respectively.
According to him, the emerging security challenges in the country have had great consequences on the polity in the North-east and the Niger Delta region of our nation.
He said: “These challenges have continued to demand a great deal of human and material resources to surmount, which in the light of dwindling revenue would be sustainable only with generous innovations and incorporations of home grown solutions.
“The Epenal Boat Yard, Port Hacourt was contracted to construct 30 by 8.2m boats for the navy in 2015, which was delivered earlier this year. These were immediately inducted into the service and used for rigorous patrols in the Niger Delta.
“Their availability has helped to stem the tide of criminal activities in the area. Encouraged by the success of the venture, the contract for a further 50 was immediately awarded which has yielded the additional 30 boats being launched today and the remaining 20 will be delivered subsequently.
“The boats were fitted with appropriate weapons than the former as they benefitted from a better antiballistic protection and other facilities being an improvement promised at the launch of their precursors.
“I am hopeful that the boats being launched today would further boost the ongoing patrol efforts in the various rivers and creeks of the country to the immense benefit of the nation’s maritime security.”
In his speech afterwards, Vice Admiral Ette-Ibas said: “These boats no doubt, have boosted navy maritime operations.
“However, as part of the efforts to continue to achieve unchallenged dominance of our maritime environment, the navy within a space of six months has launched another 39 specially built patrol boats into her fleet.
“This number is an improvement over the 30 referred to earlier. These efforts, both then and now, represent navy’s modest contribution to enhance national security and prosperity.
“Of the 39 boats launched, nine were acquired from Sri Lanka and would be greatly helpful for patrol of territorial waters and the contiguous zone.
“The decision of the navy to consider to take such bold steps of building 60 boats locally from the two delivered lots.
“And with 34 more to join shortly, could be considered as part of the resolve to look inwards in the production of our naval hardware.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isa Aman-Isa, said the committee was doing everything possible to ensure the navy gets the necessary resources to tackle maritime insecurity to the fullest.