In line with its fleet recapitalisation efforts, the Nigerian Navy (NN) took delivery at the weekend of a newly built Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) from China.
The vessel, NNS CENTENARY came barely a month after the Navy received a refurbished Cutter class warship, NNS OKPABANA from the United States.
Tailor-made for Nigeria by the China Shipbuilding Company Limited, NNS CENTENARY is one of two newly built vessels for the Navy aimed at improving its war against oil theft.
With a capacity of 1800 metric tons; 3000 nautical miles range, 95 metres long and 12.2metres wide, NNS CENTENARY is the first NN ship with the ability to recover spilled oil as well as combat inferno in oilrigs.
The ship, which sailed for two months from China before arriving in Nigeria, marked the first time in 32 years the country has bought a brand new and tailor made vessel designed to meet peculiar Nigeria challenges, it was learnt.
Receiving the vessel at the Naval Dockyard, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin said the vessel will enhance the NN’s capacity towards executing her constitutional duties as well as open new vistas in the relationship between Nigeria and China.
He praised President Goodluck Jonathan for recognising the importance of effective maritime security to the nation’s economic wellbeing and giving “unprecedented support to the fleet recapitalisation pillar of the NN’s transformation plan.”
“The arrival of NNS CENTENARY on Nigeria bears testimony to the commitment and resolve of the President to emplacement a strong and virile Navy capable of protecting Nigeria’s maritime interests against all forms of threats.
“This ship is one of two OPVs acquired from China for the NN. The second one is expected to arrive in Nigeria later in the year and a substantial part of its finishing and fittings will be done here in Nigeria. This is to enhance Nigeria’s indigenous shipbuilding capacity and create job for our unemployed youths,” he said.
The Consul General of China, Liu Kan, who represented the Asian country’s Ambassador said the OPVs was the biggest military corporation both countries have entered into, just as he disclosed that the bilateral relationship of the two countries have increased greatly.
Kan said that the trade volume from China to Nigeria rose by 33 per cent last year with the total figure amounting to $18.1 billion.
In an interview with reporters, the Managing Director of the ship company, Dapo Oguntayo described the vessel as a plus to the navy, noting that the NN has not bought any new vessel since 1983.
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