By Victor Akaa, Abuja
The Director of Information Nigerian Navy, Commodore Suleman Dahun, says the Nigerian Navy (NN) on Wednesday signed a contract with a Turkish firm, Messrs Dearsan Shipyard Limited, for the construction of 2 brand new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
Commodore Dahun disclosed this in a statement relayed to Enugu Reporters on Wednesday.
The NN spokesman noted that the construction process for the vessels would be expected to complete within 37 months.
The statement stated that, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo whilst making his remarks during the ceremony, stated that the NN has maintained high posture of aggressive offensives against criminality within the water space in recent times recording tremendous success.
“The NN has in the last couple of months brought to bear her dominant status in the region by sustaining an aggressive presence in the nation’s maritime environment, leading to drastic reduction in acts of criminality in the domain.
“This development has been acknowledged by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its Global Piracy Report of 14 July 2021, indicating the lowest total of piracy and armed attacks against ships in 27 years.” the statement stated.
According to the CNS, this report was corroborated by the Defence Web maritime security report of 15 October 2021 which noted further decline in reported cases of piracy and armed attacks against shipping in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), a development he attributed to the impact of NN maritime security operations efforts.
Admiral Gambo stated that the contract signing ceremony was another milestone achievement by the NN in her fleet renewal effort towards realizing her 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.
He expressed gratitude to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari for his continued support and goodwill towards the NN.
He recalled that sequel to the President’s directive, the NN had hosted the Chief of the Ghana Navy to discuss collaborative efforts to combat piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
He noted that during the meeting , an agreement was reached for the need to establish a standing ECOWAS Multinational Task Force within the Gulf of Guinea.
Pertinently, to sustain the upwards trajectory of the NN’s operational engagements and actively participate in the proposed Task Force, the CNS informed that the President granted approval for the NN to procure 2 High Endurance OPV with the capability to carry out maritime interdiction operations, surveillance and special forces operations as well as provide naval fire support to land forces.
“The OPVs will also be capable of conducting search and rescue operations, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and anti-drug trafficking operation is and disaster relief operations among others”.
Admiral Gambo further revealed that the process of selecting a shipyard capable of constructing the OPVs began in earnest and Dearsan Shipyard Limited was selected based on its track record and the conviction that the shipyard would be able to construct a platform that could be deployed as an OPV in peacetime, while having the capability and flexibility to be quickly outfitted with sensors and weapons to re-role the platform for warfare and maritime defence purposes, at a cost effective price.
According to him, today was a remarkable day as it marked the consummation of relationship between the NN and Messrs Dearsan which is hoped would lead to more fruitful engagements between Nigeria and Turkey in the future.
While responding, the Chief Executive Officer of Messrs Dearsan Shipyard, Mr Murat Gordi commended the NN and the Federal Government for the confidence reposed in the company to construct the OPVs and assured reciprocate the gesture by building the world standard vessels.
He said, the project would further strengthen the already existing ties between Nigeria and Turkey through the provision of added value in technological transfer and expertise.