Navy deploys 10 ships, helicopters to tackle piracy
The Nigerian Navy has disclosed that it deployed about 10 ships and two helicopters as it partnered with 28 nations to tackle piracy, armed robbery and other offshore crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
The exercise, which will cover the fringes of Eastern and Western Naval Commands, spanning Bonny, Brass Islands among others, would involve coordinated patrols, Maritime inter-jurisdiction operations including anti-piracy, anti-crude oil theft, and other economic crimes.
The Navy while flagging off operation ‘Obangame express’ also disclosed that the exercise would expose its combat readiness, as well as strengthen interagency and international collaboration.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony of the annual exercise onboard Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Thunder, at Onne, Rivers State yesterday, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, expressed happiness that the sustained onslaught of the Navy against criminality on the country’s territorial waters had caused the removal of Nigeria from the list of countries prone to piracy.
He said: “The exercise will positively impact on the Navy’s readiness for combat operation through training while exposing other maritime-related agencies to the benefits of inter-agency cooperation and international collaboration.
“The Exercise, from its inception in 2010, has grown in both complexities and accomplishment. Starting out with just nine participating nations in a centralised exercise, ‘Obangame Express’ has moved to decentralised events with about 28 participating nations and about 100 individually evaluated events.
“The Nigeria Navy will be deploying 10 ships, two helicopters, and maritime domain awareness assets as well as elements of the Special Boat Services for this year’s exercise. It is my hope that the exercise would positively impact on Navy’s readiness for combat operation through training while exposing other maritime-related agencies to the benefits of inter-agency cooperation and international collaboration.”
He added: “It is worthy to state that last year, the International Maritime Bureau and the Defence Web acknowledged the significant reduction in piracy and armed attacks against shipping in the Gulf of Guinea in 27 years.
“It is cheering to note that the latest IMB report of 3 Mar 22 shows that Nigeria has exited the IMB Piracy List. This means that Nigeria is no longer on the list of piracy-prone countries. Again, reports from our various Regional Maritime Awareness Capability centers improvements in legitimate shipping activities with negligible crime rates.”
Meanwhile, the officer conducting the exercise and Flag Officer Commanding, (FOC) Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Idi Abbas reiterated that the exercise would create a safe and secure maritime environment for shipping and other economic activities through the prevention of piracy.
Abbas said: “Drawing from the political objectives, the exercise is aimed at creating a safe and secure maritime environment for shipping and other economic activities through the prevention piracy, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other forms of criminalities in our maritime domain.
“I want to assure members of the public that the Nigerian Navy will continue to provide the necessary conducive maritime environment for legitimate businesses to thrive.
“The challenges in the maritime domain require more collaboration and information sharing rather than unhealthy rivalry among stakeholders.”