Standing by its avowal to look inwards for development, the Nigerian Navy recently plotted its first indigenous maritime chart that was unveiled at the World Hydrography Day, Chiemelie Ezeobi reports
It is certainly a season of firsts for the Nigerian Navy (NN) under the leadership of Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas. Just last week, the 2019 World Hydrography Day afforded the Nigerian Navy the opportunity to unveil its first indigenous maritime chart. Also in the offing is the hydrographic vessel that the navy will soon take delivery of.
The locally produced nautical chart, the first of its kind since 1976, was produced by the NN Hydrography department to address security and safety issues in the country’s maritime environment.
Unveiling the chart in Lagos over the weekend at Naval Dockyard in Victoria Island, Lagos, to celebrate the 2019 World Hydrography Day, the CNS said it would ensure effective and efficient hydrographic services to facilitate safe and efficient use of the seas, oceans and waterways.
The CNS also said the navy would later this year, take delivery of a hydrographic vessel currently being built at the Ocea shipyard in France, adding that there was ongoing capacity development for the production of military operations charts to specifically meet maritime operational and intelligence needs, especially in the aid of riverine operations within the nation’s backwaters.
Attainment of Hydrographic Strategy Phases
In his speech, Ibas said: “At last year’s World Hydrography Day event, we applauded Nigeria’s attainment of phases one and two of the International Hydrographic Organisation’s development strategy regarding the ability to disseminate Maritime Safety Information (MSI) and acquisition of hydrographic data within our waters.
“One year down the line, I am glad to note that Nigeria has achieved the third and last phase in her hydrographic development, which is the ability to produce fully authenticated navigational charts. This is coming at a time when the world is focusing on the blue economy for a more sustainable use of ocean ecosystem health. By achieving this feat, Nigeria is better placed for enhanced sustainable use of its ocean resources.”
Ibas described this year’s theme “Hydrographic Information Drive Marine Knowledge” as most appropriate, owing to the indispensability of hydrographic data to successful maritime activities.
He said Hydrography is not limited to facilitating navigational safety alone, as it also provides basic information for expert management of the seas, oceans and waterways, including Marine Geospatial Knowledge for national development.
“In the area of hydrographic platforms acquisition, the NN also recently inducted two survey launches locally constructed here at the Naval Dockyard Limited into its hydrographic fleet while work on the construction of a 60 meter Ocean Survey Vessel, has reached advanced stage at Ocean shipyard in France.
“On completion, this vessel is expected to further boost NN survey and charting capacity from December 2019. The NN equally continues to boost her capacity by sustaining the training of her personnel in diverse fields of hydrography and cartography at various international Hydrographic Organisation accredited institutions around the world.
“These efforts are intended to deliver a total hydrographic package to mariners in the next few years to further enhance safety of navigation and improved maritime knowledge in Nigeria.
“I must admit at this moment that the level of Hydrographic development achieved in Nigeria could not have been possible without the inevitable support and strategic guidance of Mr President and C-in-C of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. Pertinently, his continued support particularly in the area of equipment and platform acquisition appropriately positioned the NN to be more relevant in nation building, despite other competing national demands,” he added.
Ibas further appealed to maritime stakeholders to submit their survey data and maritime information to the NN so that existing charts would be updated and new ones produced.
“This way, more of Nigeria’s maritime environment would be surveyed and charted for the benefit of all players in the maritime sector. This would ultimately impact positively on Nigeria’s economic responsibilities before us, which deeper cooperation with each other in accomplishing,” he added.
In her remark, Managing Director Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman pledged enhanced collaboration with the navy, adding that charting would be extended to eastern and central ports.
She said: “Available statistics show that only about five per cent of the world’s oceans have been explored with an accuracy of about 5km. This implies that the quest to acquire more knowledge about our maritime space will continue to increase in the years ahead in order to guarantee its conservation and sustainable use for the benefit of all mankind.
“To this end, hydrography offers the first and most reliable tool for further research within the maritime domain. That is why the steps taken by the Nigerian Navy to produce the first indigenous navigational chart of Nigerian waters is in the right direction.
“With the Nigerian waters warehousing enormous living and non-living resources, substantial percentage of which are yet to be discovered, there is the need for more charts and other nautical publications to be produced much quicker now that indigenous charting capacity has been developed.
“As Ports Authority, it is worth mentioning that Hydrography as an endeavor has specifically assisted us in achieving the deepening of our channels, expansion of marine services to Ijegun Egba channel, successful navigation of the EGINA FPSO, recent completion of remedial dredging of Escravos channel, frequent wreck removal along our channels and the building of our simulation center at Dockyard Apapa among others.”
Vital Role of Hydrography
Earlier, the Hydrographer General of Nigeria, who also doubles as the Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Emeka Okafor, said the WHD presents an opportunity to increase public awareness on the vital role that hydrography plays in the socio-economic development of littoral nations.
He said, “It is a known fact that over 90 per cent of the world’s trade is conducted by the sea, and this is, by far, the most cost-effective way to move large quantity of goods and raw materials around the world. Without the services of hydrographers, who provide charts and other nautical publications, voyages through the sea would have become a nightmare to captains of ships, who need to move goods and services from one part of the world to the order in a safe and economical way.
“Over the years, the Nigerian Navy, in line with her constitutional roles, has been building both human and material capacities to enable her provide hydrographic services that meets international standard. These efforts, have paid off with the publication of the first indigenous chart of Nigerian waters, which will be launched during this World Hydrography Day celebration. This, therefore makes this year’s World Hydrography Day celebration special.”