The Nigerian Government has invested close to eight million dollars to refurbish a US Coast Guard Warship, USCGC CHASE (WHEC-718) donated to the Nigeria Navy, a senior military official said.
Commodore Sylvanius Chinweuba, Commander of Fleet Support Group of the Nigeria Navy disclosed this to reporters, Friday in Alameda, California at a handover ceremony of CHASE to the Nigeria Navy.
“We have paid close to 8 million dollars, not for the purchase ( it came free), but for logistics support.
“They (USCG) removed some of their sensitive equipment (the entire control system) and now we have to rebuild based on our own environment,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that that the US Coast Guard ship has been renamed Nigeria Navy Thunder F90 (NNS Thunder or Aradu).
With this donation, the Nigerian Navy now has two NNS Aradu in its fleet.
“ Thunder in Hausa, a Nigerian language is known as Aradu, and that is the flagship of the Nigerian Navy, we felt because of the capacity of this ship, it is complementary to NNS Aradu, and it can play the role of Aradu,’’ Chinweuba said.
The naval commander said that Nigeria was expecting another ship in the same mould from the U.S in the next two years.
“We requested for three warships but got one and we hope that within the next two years we will get another one.
“We are the only African country that is beneficiary of this gesture, a similar ship was donated to the Philippines by the US Coast Guard,’’ Chinweuba said.
Earlier, Rear Admiral Aminu Ikioda, the Chief of Logistics of Nigeria Navy, told NAN that NNS Aradu F90,
docked at the Coast Guard Island in Alameda, would sail to Nigeria by mid-July and arrive in Lagos by September.
“We are ready to utilise this vessel to the fullest and we want to take advantage of the opportunity that it will provide for us to be able to carry out our statutory roles of providing credible maritime defence to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We will use it for the safety of all in the Gulf of Guinea and to protect the economic lifeline of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is oil.
Ikioda corroborated the position that some equipment removed by the USCG would be replaced while the colour of the ship would be changed to reflect the colour of the Nigeria Navy- shipside grey, before it sails to the country.
In his remarks, Prof Ade Adefuye, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, who received the 378-foot cutter CGC CHASE, renamed NNS Thunder F90, described the feat as a high point in Nigeria-US relations.
He said the offer had strengthened the US-Nigeria Bi-National Commission Agreement signed in April 2010.
“All the four focuses of the Bi-National Commission Agreement have been fully implemented and will continue to be implemented.
“One of the component of the commission is security in the Gulf region, an area where most of our oil come from.
“The NNS Thunder will increase our capability to ensure that there is security in the Gulf region and checking the activities of those who may wish to disrupt the free flow of oil,’’ Adefuye said.
He said that both countries were good partners in the “faithful implementation’’ of the principles of democracy in the region.
Adefuye said the addition to the Nigeria Navy fleet would soar the “display of Nigeria military.’’
“This would act as a deterrent for would be-dictators and those who will not allow democracy to thrive,’’ he said.
The ambassador thanked the US for the offer, saying it came “after a successful election in Nigeria’’.
He praised U.S for being very supportive in ensuring that democracy, human rights and justice thrived in Nigeria.
“NNS thunder would be used as an additional component to ensure that in Africa, the principles of democracy thrive,’’ he stressed.
Navy Capt. Muhammad Nagenu is the Captain of NNS Thunder. He will lead a crew of 150 naval men, currently under-going sea training in the US, to bring the vessel home to Nigeria by September.