Two new warships will be joining the Nigerian Navy fleet before September 2014. Already, over 50 naval personnel have departed Nigeria for China to bring in the first vessel, an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) that was built for the Nigerian Navy.
Addressing officers and men of the force in Lagos after his first bi-annual tour of ships and establishment, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral Goddy Anyankpele, said the training command played major role to enable the vessel return safely to Nigeria.
He said that the training of naval officers and men that would bring the vessel home, was done at the command, adding that NAVTRAC has commenced training for new sets of personnel that will travel to the United States to take custody of the United States Coast Guard Ship, GALLANTINE.
Admiral Anyakpele said the Command has also started training for prospective participants at the National Defence College, adding that the training commonly called ‘Cadre’ in naval parlance was adjudged very successful as the NDC qualifying examination result revealed over 90 per cent pass by naval officers.
He said efforts were on to accredit courses offered at its various technical schools with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), noting: “Already, the Nigerian Navy Finance and Logistics College has been partially accredited in four courses namely, Accounting, Business Administration, Hospitality and Catering Management as well as Office Technology and Management pending the fulfillment of the complete requirement for full accreditation.”
The China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company had recently launched the Nigerian Navy’s first of two P-18N offshore patrol vessels.
The vessel was assigned the pennant number F91 (the pennant number F90 is assigned to the NNS Thunder, a ex-US Coast Guard cutter). The offshore patrol vessel’s launched ceremony also marked the hull formation ceremony of the second vessel, F92.
Only the first offshore patrol vessel (OPV) will be built entirely in China as between 50 and 70% of the second ship will be constructed in Nigeria in an effort to enhance local shipbuilding capability and provide technology transfer. Delivery of F91 is expected in the middle of this year and the second vessels are also expected to arrive sometime in 2014, and be completed either late this year or early 2015.
China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) has also signed a contract to upgrade the Nigerian Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt so that it can build OPV’s and maintain vessels up to 10 000 dwt. Upgrades to the dockyard include a new jetty, a new dry dock and other additions.
Nigeria ordered the two Chinese OPVs in April 2012 and construction began that October. The vessels are based on Type 056 corvette in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The vessels are 95 metres long with a draft of 3.5 metres. They are powered by two MTU 20V 400m diesel engines, giving a speed of 21 knots, and are armed with one 76mm and two 30 mm guns. Crew complement will be 70 sailors and endurance 20 days. They will be able to carry and support a helicopter off a rear deck.
The Nigerian Navy announced that the vessels would mainly to be used for maritime surveillance, patrol and response tasks. Other roles of the vessels would be protection of offshore assets, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) patrol and surveillance, search and rescue and oil spill control.