Navy’s Ballistic Gunboats and DHQ’s Efforts in Boosting Maritime Security
The task of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity rests squarely on the shoulders of the country’s Armed Forces. The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) executes this joint responsibility it shares with the Nigerian Army and Navy, from the sky.
The Army carries out its job of fending off brutal aggressors, terrorists, rebels and other criminals, on land. Then, talking about the Navy, it discharges this sacred mandate from the eagle eyes it keep on the nation’s waterways.
However, the country is still been plagued by the activities of terrorists, bandits, pirates and several other criminals.
Even more disturbing is the fact that crude warfare ammunition at the disposal of troops of the Armed Forces–be it naval personnel, airmen and soldiers–have worsened insecurity, in recent times.
Experts in security issues have canvassed local production of military hardware to boost troops’ combat power against criminal elements.
Though a lot have been done concerning the aforementioned issue, but certainly, more is been done by the three military institutions, under the incumbent leadership of Gen. Lucky Irabor as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
The Army, Air Force and Navy, in the last few months, fabricated and commissioned MRAPs, guntrucks and several other military hardware and firearms for their troops.
Just on Monday, October 25, 2021 the Nigerian Navy was again in the global limelight in Rivers State, when the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Gen.
Leo Irabor inaugurated four Semi-Ballistic Gunboats. The gunboats were constructed for the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, by the Naval Shipyard Limited in Port Harcourt.
According to Irabor who was also the Special Guest of Honour at the gunboats’ unveiling event, the decision to provide armoured gunboats for operations was informed by the need to provide added protection to troops in the discharge of the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s responsibility of ensuring safety and security of the nation’s maritime environment.
Speaking further, the CDS reiterated the confidence emplaced on the Naval Shipyard Limited by awarding the contract to construct the boats.
In his words, “From all indications and from what we are seeing here today, the decision has proven to be a wise one.
“I must also state quickly that the decision was borne out of the need to support the shipbuilding capability of our Armed Forces in order to improve local capacity and expertise for the production of our defence needs”.
General Irabor further commended the Nigerian Navy and the Naval Shipyard Limited for achieving this feat despite the interruption of industrial, commercial and economic activities that emanated due to the outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic.
He further stated that this achievement would be a boost to enhancing military presence within the waterways in order to mitigate maritime security challenges in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The General enjoined the end users of the ballistic gunboats to imbibe the culture of maintenance to ensure their longevity.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo stated that the construction of the Semi Ballistic Gunboats is yet another milestone achievement by the Naval Shipyard Limited in the provision of necessary support to the on-going effort at combating threats to the nation’s maritime interest.
Gambo said the protection of Nigeria’s maritime environment remains a key mandate of the Nigerian Navy hence the need for developing requisite capacity for ship building as well as provision of necessary logistics support for the sustenance of the fleet.
Therefore, the construction of the platforms and their subsequent induction into the maritime assets of the Operation Delta Safe would bolster the operational capacity of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta area.
The CNS expressed delight on the project and appreciated the Chief of Defence Staff for the patronage as well as trust and believe in the capability of the Naval Shipyard Limited to build the boats for the Defence Headquarters. He said the achievement has contributed immensely to the development of expertise of the Naval Shipyard Limited and expectedly a cost saving option considering other competing demand for scarce resources.
According to him, the endeavour also aligns with the Federal Governments agenda of encouraging local content towards developing indigenous capacity and reducing dependency on external vendors.
The Admiral reaffirmed that the Nigerian Navy will not relent in its effort at developing the capacity of the Naval Shipyard Limited stating that the Navy is exploiting partnership with the Presidential Implementation Committee on Technology Transfer to further develop the infrastructure and human capacity of the Yard towards national socio-economic development.
The fact that the Nigerian Navy was commissioned to produce the gunboats, by the Irabor-led Defence Headquarters shows nothing. But that, the DHQ, itself, means business in tackling maritime crimes, with the aid of the indigenous warfare technologies designed, tested and proven to be efficacious.
Mahmud Abdulsalam is Assistant Editor, PRNigeria