Deploys 14 ships, 2 helicopters, others
By Evelyn Usman
THE new Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo, Monday, flagged off his first quarter sea excercise code named ‘ Execise Secured Waters’, aimed at cubbing maritime illegalities such as piracy , sea robbery among others, in the nation’s maritime domain. Fourteen Naval warships, two helicopters and elements of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service, SBS, were deployed for the three days sea excercise.
The ships included: NNS Thunder, NNS Obula, NNS Prosperity, NNS Nwamba, Nguru, Ekulu, Karaduwa, Andoni, Sagbama, Ose, Zaria, Okpoku and TUG Dolphin Rima.
Speaking during the flag off ceremony held onboard NNS Thunder, the CNS explained that the excercise was conceived to test a broad spectrum of maritime operations in order to enhance the security of Nigeria’s maritime domain to check criminality at sea”.
He said it was also part of his strategic intent to position the Nigerian Navy firmly, towards his articulated vision, in order to align strategic intent with execution.
He recalled that on taking over as the 21st indigenous CNS, his vision for the Nigerian Navy was “ To leverage on all factors of national location, technology, training, teamwork and synergy, to re-energise the NN and enhance her as a well motivated and ready force , in the discharge of her constitutional mandate and other assigned task, in fulfilment of her national security objectives.”
He noted that over the past years, the Navy had made significant progress in the fight against various forms of maritime crimes, adding that exercise Secured Waters was a demonstration of the navy’s resolve to strengthen and consolidate on previous gains, by acting decisively against pirates, sea robbers and other enemies of the state. Such commitment, he opined, would further reassure the nation’s regional and international partners of the Navy’s readiness to weather ongoing partnerships and collaboration towards our collective regional security.
To put up an exercise of such magnitude, the CNS said, a lot of logistics was required. He, therefore, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, for “his kind understanding and tireless provision for the Navy even in such difficult fiscal times.”
Rear Admiral Gambo further informed that “one of my cardinal priorities is to improve the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Navy’s fleet in terms of sea readiness and availability for operational deployments, in order to speedily boost our capacity to meet our statutory maritime commitments.
“This is in line with the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the Service to urgently restore normalcy in the nation’s maritime domain and emplace a conducive environment for maritime business to flourish”.
Earlier in his remarks, Flag Officer Commanding, FOC Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, informed that Exercise Secured Waters’ involved deployments of assets from all the three operations commands, the Naval Training Command as well as adequate support from the Logistics Command and autonomous units.
Being the first CNS’sea exercerise on assumption of command, Daji said, the exercise presented an opportunity to evaluate and revise the Navy’s operational and projected fleet response plans, with a view to attaining a focused alignment with the strategic guidance issued by the by CNS in his vision and mission statement.
The Exercise according to him, also provided the platform to align the Navy’s training objectives with it’s operational requirements, as well as to provide a test bench for the planning and execution of its coordinated strike capabilities. It is also pertinent to state that the Exercise comes against the backdrop of cases of piracy in the Golf of Guinea, GoG and the recent efforts to rejig the maritime security ,particularly in the Lagos Area, Daji said.
Continuing, Daji, said, “within this context, maintaining our strategic deterrence posture and influence in the maritime environment is critical to our economic prosperity and regional stability. It is my firm belief that the Excercise will give additional impetus to our overall maritime combat experiences in order to ensure that the Navy remains relevant not only in the defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria but also in other contributions to the nation’s economic prosperity.”
The fleet deployed for the sea exercise would conduct several exercises which includes: Anti-Piracy Operations, Protection of oil and gas facilities, fleet maneouvres, communication, Vessel Board Search and Seizure, Search and Rescue among others, according to Daji.
While appreciating the CNS for providing the leadership, logistics and necessary support for the execution of the sea exercise, the FOC West said, “on our part, we will continue to work with our interagency partners to stamp out criminalities in our maritime domain and assure you that Exercise Secured Waters will reinforce our quest for a safe and secure maritime environment”.