Navy plans to establish own maritime university, operational base in Lake Chad

Less than two months after the Federal Government scrapped a maritime university created by the country’s past administration, the Nigerian Navy has hinted of its plans to establish a new maritime university in the country and a Forward Operation Base (FOB) in Lake Chad.

This disclosure was made yesterday in Lagos, during a training seminar organised by the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC). The theme of the training was “The future of professional training in the Nigerian Navy”.

In his opening remark at the event, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibas noted that conventional security challenges have forced the navy to move towards adopting new strategies.

Using the navy’s participation in the northeast operation against terrorist sect, Boko Haram, as well as the force’ battle against militants and vandals in the creeks as examples, Ibas said he had directed a review of the navy’s training curriculum to address the challenges.

According to Ibas, the establishment of an FOB in Lake Chad, creation of choke points by placing houseboats around the creeks, as well as the enhancement of surveillance capacities were among the new strategies adopted.

The naval chief, however, did not give details of how, when or where the proposed maritime university – which he said would cater for the training of naval personnel and other maritime stakeholders within and outside the country – would be established.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government, in January, scrapped a maritime university established by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Delta State.

Ibas said, “For over five years we have relied majorly on the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) that gives us an eye over the horizon.

“We have commenced the process of emplacing a more robust surveillance system, FALCON EYE, which when completed, will provide surveillance on the entire 200 nautical miles of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

“This will therefore boost our ability to contain the notorious maritime challenges that we presently have out there.

“The navy in particular has been obliged in the context of the prevailing national emergency to transit a complicated range of a full spectrum of warfare. From her traditional maritime environment in which she engages in ensuring order in the EEZ and territorial waters, washing ashore to be occupied by complex riverine and brown water operations, to a completely new challenge of engaging in fighting in build-up area and desert warfare, as obtained in the northeast theatre.

“On account of the foregoing, the navy has in the last couple of years found herself increasingly assuming operational responsibilities in the continental theatre. Even more profoundly is the asymmetric characteristics of the engagement.

“Suddenly, the navy has had to find herself fighting an adversary who uses unconventional weapons and tactics, employing terrorism to exploit the vulnerabilities of own forces.

“All of these have impacted a compelling need to admit new weapons and technologies, tactics, doctrinal shift and logistics management.

“The evolving scenario has necessitated significant changes in our operational procedures, particularly in addressing the spate of crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and attacks on shipping.”

Earlier, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) NAVTRAC, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo who noted that the command conducts over 120 courses in its 11 colleges and schools, added that the naval training was a function of operational realities, technological changes and fleet renewal.

“As we have witnessed in the past two decades, the operational doctrine of the Nigerian Navy has been challenged by emerging threats in our maritime environment.

“With attendant need for new technologies and fleet recapitalisation. As a result, it became apparent that we need to devote significant efforts towards reflecting on extant doctrine as well as the future direction of training in the NN,” he said.

Osinowo disclosed that the command has in the last six months embarked on a comprehensive review of the existing curricula in all NN training institutions.

“The review involved identifications of additions, retentions and deletions as well as recognition of new fleet and technologies. Apart from generating inputs from the operational command’s, an effort was made to align the courses conducted with global maritime training standards while new and more impactful teaching methods are being integrated into our practices,” he said.

At the seminar were Commandant, National Defence Academy (NDA), Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade; FOC, Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Raphael Osondu; Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Uduak Essien; Admiral Superintendent, Naval Doctrine and Assessment Centre, Rear Admiral Jacob Ajani; Director of Naval Information, Commodore Chris Ezekobe and Commodore, among others.

Retired naval officers including Rear Admirals Ndubuisi Kanu, O.O. Joseph and Francis Akpan were also at the event.

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