Bolstering the Navy’s Sealift Capability

Bolstering the Navy’s Sealift Capability

The Nigerian Navy launched a new Landing Ship Tank-100 at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates last week. Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that the LST would not only boost the navy’s sealift capabilities but also enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency

As part of a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond, as well as enhancing the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency, the Nigerian Navy had initiated the construction of Landing Ship Tank-100 (LST-100) built at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

This recent acquisition has increased the fleet acquired by the navy since 2015. According to checks, the navy has acquired close to 400 new platforms including 172 Riverine Patrol Boats (RPBs), 114 Rigid- Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), two Seaward Defence Boats (SDBs), 12 Manta Class/Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC), three Whaler Boats, four Barges / Tug Boats, 22 Fast Attack Boats, 14 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), four Helicopters, 14 River Town Class, 14 House Boats and four Capital Ships.

Objectives

According to the Director of Navy Information (DINFO), Commodore Suleman Dahun, the introduction of the LST to the NN inventory will bolster NN sealift capability. Specifically, he said it would enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency.

“Furthermore, the vessel will serve as a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond. In its secondary role, the LST will play a critical role in the protection of maritime assets and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce, peace and safety.”

Construction

The construction of the LST began at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates about two years ago. With its construction, it replaced the first set of LSTs of the NN, NNS AMBE and NNS OFIOM, which have been decommissioned.

The bid opening process for the procurement of the LST was held on December 19, 2017 and supervised/conducted by a team from the Bureau of Public Procurement as well as a technical committee of the Nigerian Navy, the DINFO disclosed. He said the shipbuilding companies that participated were Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, Anadolu Deniz of Turkey and Indian Shipyards GOA of India.

On June 13, 2019, the NN and Damen Shipyards signed the final general arrangement plan and specifications on the LST 100 and this date of June 13, 2019 became the effective date of contract for the LST 100. The contract duration as agreed by both parties was approximately 36 months from the effective date of contract. The Keel laying ceremony for the LST 100 was held on December 9, 2019 at The Damen-Albwardy Shipyard in Sharjah the UAE and the immediate past CNS, Vice Admiral IE Ibas, placed the Nigerian Navy insignia into the keel and sealed it.

“Over the last two years, several Factory Acceptance Tests with regards to various components of the LST 100 have been jointly and successfully completed by the NN and Damen Shipyards. Most notable among these FAT’s was the main propulsion engines tested in 2019/ 2020 and the Remote Weapon system which was also successfully tested in March 2021,” he added.

A Chief’s Pride

Just last week Monday, the LST was launched in Dubai. In his speech, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo who participated virtually, beamed with pride at the latest addition to the naval fleet.

Reiterating that the LST-100 was conceived as a replacement for the decommissioned 2x LSTs (NNS AMBE and NNS OFIOM) from the NN inventory between 2012-2014, he noted that the LST -100 would enhance NN sealift, and evacuation capabilities for the conduct of amphibious operations.

He said: “In this regard, this launching ceremony is of great significance as it marks a giant stride in our efforts towards restoring Nigerian Navy sea dominance within the GoG region. Permit me to state that shipbuilding is a complex and time-based engineering activity, which demands hard work, integration of diverse competences and attention to the minutest detail.

“Thus, the choice of Messrs Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding to construct the LST-100 was made after a highly competitive bidding process. Messrs Damen was selected based on her track record of high quality ship building capacity as well as the belief in the company’s ability to adhere to agreed timelines. At this milestone event of the project, I am glad to say that the confidence reposed in Messrs Damen has not been misplaced. Permit me, therefore, to congratulate Messrs Damen for meeting this crucial timeline in the construction of the LST-100 despite the disruptions and delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Accordingly, the launching ceremony today is being held virtually without the presence of the representatives of the Nigerian Navy in the Damen Shipyard in Sharjah, as is the custom. Despite the unfortunate turn of events which were not envisaged when the contract for the construction of the LST-100 was signed as well as the global lockdown which affected movement of people and goods, Damen Shipyard persevered and today, we are witnessing this launching ceremony.

“It is gratifying to note that the introduction of the LST-100 to the Nigerian Navy inventory will bolster NN sealift capability. Specifically, it would enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency.

“Furthermore, the vessel will serve as a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond. Let me also say that in its secondary role, the LST-100 will play a critical role in the protection of maritime assets and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce, peace and safety. “

While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his unflinching support to the recapitalisation programme of the Nigerian Navy Fleet, he said the navy and, indeed the global seafaring community, look forward to the services “of this masterpiece as her keel touches water for the first time in her career. I believe, the craftsmanship, standard of engineering and support provided by Messrs Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding will guarantee the effective presence of this vessel on the high seas for a long time to come”.

Capabilities

According to additional information from the DINFO, “the new LST has a complement of 32 crew and 250 embarked persons and a length of 100.08m. She is powered by two Caterpillar/Cat 3516 C-rating engines and four Caterpillar C-18 generators. Furthermore, she has an endurance of 15 days @ 15 knots. If she is to be used for humanitarian missions/evacuation, she can accommodate over 450 persons on its upper and lower decks in short trips.”

With this latest acquisition and several others still on their way, it is believed that the navy is better positioned to tackle maritime criminalities either within its backwaters and territorial waters.

Related Articles