Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Nigerian Navy has launched two ships to curb oil theft and other maritime crimes in the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea, following the Minister of Defence, Badaru Abubakar’s visit to Turkey to discuss military hardware production and other bilateral matters.
The launching of the first Nigerian Navy 2x76m, 1200 tons High Endurance Offshore Patrol Vessels (HE OPVs) was held at the Dearsan Shipyard, Tuzla, Istanbul, Turkey. The newly built HE OPV P203 was launched by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla.
Badaru, accompanied by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, visited the Turkish Aerospace Industries in the capital city, Ankara. He inspected various sections of the firm in charge of the manufacturing of modern military aircraft and other defence equipment.
The navy signed a contract with Dearsan Shipyard, Turkey, to construct two units of 76m HE OPV on November 3, 2021, and the keel laying ceremony of the two ships, which signified the commencement of their construction on September 16 2022.
The naval chief, therefore, noted that the launching ceremony of the first HE OPV P203 marked yet another milestone in their construction, having progressed significantly through a very well-planned and executed design and construction process.
A statement by the navy spokesman, Ayo-Vaughan, said Ogalla lauded President Bola Tinubu for supporting the project and commitment to the 129 recapitalisation of the naval fleet, reiterating the federal government was highly committed to its obligations towards the successful completion of the two OPVs.
The statement said following the launch of the first 76m HE OPV P203, all the ship’s installations would be completed between January and May 2024. Other expectations include conducting harbour acceptance tests between July and August 2024 and the ship delivery in August or September 2024.
“It is also planned that the launching ceremony of the second 76m HE OPVP 204 will hold in February 2024 at the Dearsan Shipyard, Turkey,” the navy statement disclosed. “Pertinently, this occasion of the launching ceremony of HE OPV P203 further buttress the resolve of the Dearsan Shipyard in ensuring timely delivery of the 2 HE OPVs to NN and sustaining the mutually beneficial cooperation between the Governments of Nigeria and Turkey.”