Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
In a bid to boost its fleet and capacity to police Nigeria’s maritime domain, the Nigerian Navy said yesterday it would take delivery of 41 platforms from France, Malaysia, Vietnam and local manufacturers in 2020.
It said the platforms at various stages of completion are expected to be added to the 42 riverine and other patrol boats procured in 2019.
The Navy said as part of its Operation Rivers Sweep designed to contain the proliferation of illegal refineries, a total of 378 illegal refineries were destroyed resulting in the destruction of 62 speed boats and arrest of 275 suspects for involvement in illegal bunkering and smuggling.
Speaking while presenting the Nigerian Navy Scorecard 2019 in Abuja, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, said the platforms include hydrographic survey ship from Ocea France, two Fast Patrol Boats (FBS) from Damen Shipyard in Vietnam, four Manta Class Boat from Suncraft in Malaysia, one helicopter from Italy and 15 riverine patrol boats from Epenal Group Nigeria Limited in Port Harcourt, among others.
The Naval Chief, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Beegroy Ibe-Enwo, said the Nigerian Navy “in 2019 acquired some platforms to boost her maritime security operations amongst which are 20 Riverine Patrol Boats, 20 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) and two-man House Boats.
“Also, the Nigerian Navy is expecting some platforms from various manufacturers both within and outside the country to join her fleet to further boost her maritime security operations”.
Making the presentation, the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Tariworio Dick, said with the launch of Operation Tsare Teku and Calm Water launched to combat attacks on shipping and other illegal activities in the area of coverage, 16 pirate attacks were reported from January to December 2019.
He said while six were successful, 10 were unsuccessful.
“This is an improvement in comparison to the records for 2018 where a total of 34 pirate attacks were reported with nine successful and 25 unsuccessful attacks,” he said.
With the launch of Operation Swift Response in 2016 designed to curtail the increasing threat posed by smuggling in Nigeria, he said the Nigerian Navy inducted patrol boats and vessels in support of federal government’s anti-smuggling and border security operations.
He said the operation resulted in the confiscation of 10 trucks of 33,000 litres of petroleum products valued at N80 million and the seizure of 14,056 bags of rice worth over N210 million from August till date.
Responding to a question on the $195 million security contract awarded to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies, to secure Nigeria’s waters by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Naval Chief said the project was an asset of the Nigerian Navy and would be managed by the Navy on completion.
He said “Nigerian Navy is involved in the project. They are providing assets for us to use. They provide special mission vessels, vessels to be manned by Nigerian Navy”