The war against pipeline vandals and militants Wednesday got a boost as the Nigerian Navy unveiled 39 patrol boats that can penetrate the creeks.
This development occurred barely six months after it inaugurated 30 of the same class of boats (Epenal boats) in Port Harcourt which were built at the Naval Dockyard Limited.
Of the 39 unveiled by the Minister of Defence, Gen. Muhammad Dan-Ali (rtd) on Wednesday in Lagos, 30 were indigenously constructed, while nine of them including three Wave Riders and six Arrows.
Dan-Ali who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Danjuma Sheni also inaugurated 45 different mix of vehicles acquired by the navy to boosts its land operations.
Commending the navy for sourcing its needs in country and saving cost, Dan-Ali said the emerging security challenges in the country have had great consequences on the polity and economy of the country.
He said, “These challenges have continued to demand a great deal of human and material resources to surmount, which in the light of dwindling revenue would be sustainable only with generous innovations and incorporations of home grown solutions.
“The Epenal Boat Yard Port Harcourt was contracted to construct 30 8.2m boats for the navy in 2015, which was delivered earlier this year. These were immediately inducted into the service and used for rigorous patrols in the Niger Delta.
“Their availability has helped to stem the tide of criminal activities in the area. Encouraged by the success of the venture, the contract for a further 50 was immediately awarded which has yielded the additional 30 boats. The remaining 20 will be delivered subsequently.
“I am hopeful that the boats would further boost the ongoing patrol efforts in the various rivers and creeks of the country to the immense benefit of the nation’s maritime security.”
In his welcome address, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas said that the boats were built with improved features from the 30 inaugurated in Port Harcourt.
“These boats no doubt, have boosted NN maritime operations. These efforts, both then and now, represent NN’s modest contribution to enhance national security and prosperity.
“Of the 39 boats launched, nine were acquired from Sri Lanka and would be greatly helpful for patrol of territorial waters and the contiguous zone.
“The decision of the NN to consider to take such bold steps of building 60 boats locally from the two delivered lots, and with 34 more to join shortly, could be considered as part of the resolve to look inwards in the production of our naval hardware.
“The mounting operational challenges in the face of progressively dwindling economy necessitated the NN to explore more cost saving options through local construction of these patrol boats. The cost of production of a unit of the boat is less than half the cost of producing similar boats from overseas.
“This rate has been kept despite the massive erosion of Naira value between November 2015 when the production was contracted and now. These boats retained all positive features of the previous set including being fitted with appropriate weapons for credible firepower.
“Additionally, it benefitted from the incorporation of anti-ballistic protection, giving it edge for more audacious and aggressive employment. They are also expected to present a better sea-keeping ability with a wide margin for the many corrections applied to the design concept of Lot 1, through series of stage trials in the production cycle.
“I can say we are gradually but steadily moving towards the saturation of the nation’s backwaters with patrol boats for improved security of our maritime domain. The boats will be deployed optimally by various relevant NN units.
“Their induction would certainly enhance NN’s capability at carrying out her statutory roles and also assist immensely for the NN to keep the criminals at the back foot,” said Ibas.
Speaking to reporters after the event, Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isa Aman-Isa said the legislature appreciates the requirements of the navy and has ensured that it benefits from the N60billion China-Africa partnership loan.
He disclosed that they have commenced plans to ensure the navy gets adequate funds in the 2017 budget, assuring Nigerians that the issue of militancy would soon be a thing of the past.
At the event were the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo; General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Maj.-Gen. Isidore Edet, Flag Officers Commanding (FOC) Western and Naval, Rear Admiral Fergusson Bobai and his Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) colleague, Rear Admiral Ifeola Mohammed.
Others include the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Air Vice Marshal Sani Ahmed, the Admiral Superintendent, Naval Ordinance Depot (NOD) Rear Admiral SO Paul, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in-charge of zone II, Abdulmajid Ali, as well as the Chairman, House Committees on Navy.
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