By Evelyn Usman
The Nigerian Navy made history today, with the launch of a new Landing Ship Tank, LST at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates. This is coming 41 years after the country commissioned similar LSTs .
By the way, a Landing Ship Tank is the naval designation for ships first developed during World War II (1939–1945) to support amphibious operations by carrying tanks, vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly to shore with no docks or piers. This enables amphibious assaults on almost any beach.
The construction of the ship began about two years ago and when commissioned in Nigeria, it will replace the Type 502 LSTs: NNS Ambe and NNS Ofiom, which have been decommissioned.
The new LST is expected to play an important role in the protection of the nation’s maritime environment as well as contribute to the promotion of global maritime commerce.
The introduction of the LST to the Nigerian Navy’s inventory is also expected to among other things: bolster its sealift capability, enhance the transportation of troops, Military hardware and vehicles, in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea.
It is also expected to play a significant role in the supply of relief material during periods of national emergency, as well as serve as a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond.
Briefing journalists over the weekend on the LST , at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island Lagos, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said, “ this is a good thing for the Nigerian Navy and Nigeria because since the commissioning of the Naval Ship Tank some years ago, this is the opportunity we have, as encouraged by the President and the Commander in Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, by the recapitalization effort of the Nigerian Navy to replace her.
“The Landing Ship Tank has the capacity to convey tanks for the Nigerian Army, to convey troops for the Nigerian Army and all the Armed forces, depending on the terrain where they are deployed. It can also be used to render medical support to countries that are faced with natural disasters and other forms. The LST also has a highly specialized design that enables ocean crossings as well as shore groundings.
“ In its secondary role, the LST will play a critical role in the protection of maritime assets and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce, peace and safety”.
With a complement of 32 crew and 250 embarked persons and a length of 100.08m, the LST is powered by two Caterpillar/Cat 3516 C-rating engines and four Caterpillar C-18 generators. Furthermore, she has an endurance of 15 days at 15 knots. If she is to be used for humanitarian missions or evacuation, she can accommodate over 450 persons on its upper and lower decks in short trips.
Naval Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun , informed that , “the Shipbuilding companies that participated were Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, Anadolu Deniz of Turkey and Indian Shipyards GOA of India. On June 13, 2019, the Nigerian Navy and Damen Shipyards signed the final general arrangement plan and specifications on the LST 100 and this date became the effective date of contract for the LST 100.
“The contract duration as agreed by both parties was approximately 36 months from the effective date of contract. The Keel laying ceremony for the LST 100 was held on December 9, 2019 at the Damen-Albwardy Shipyard in Sharjah the UAE. The immediate past CNS ,Vice Admiral IE Ibas placed the Nigerian Navy insignia into the keel and sealed it.
“Over the last two years, several Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) with regards to various components of the LST 100 have been jointly and successfully completed by the Nigerian Navy and Damen shipyards. Most notable among these FAT’s was the main propulsion engines tested in 2019/2020 and the Remote Weapon system, which was also successfully tested in March, 2021”, Dahun said.