The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, says the Nigerian Navy has taken a firm stand against all forms of maritime crimes, especially the twin evils of oil theft and piracy.
Ogalla said this at the Nigerian Navy Ceremonial Sunset and Awards Night 2023 on Friday in Abuja.
He said some vessels and individuals involved in oil theft had been apprehended in the various maritime security operations conducted by the Nigerian Navy.
According to him, some of these ongoing operations include Operation AWATSE, Operation Water Guard, and Operation Dakata Barau, among others.
“As a testament to our commitment to operational readiness, we recently conducted a comprehensive end-of-year sea inspection involving 13 ships and two helicopters, as well as a detachment of the Special Boat Service (SBS).
“This exercise, codenamed NCHEKWA OSHIMIRI, provided a valuable opportunity to assess our combat capabilities and preparedness to face any potential threats.
“During the four-day exercise, various naval drills and evolutions were carried out at sea, including anti-piracy, anti-crude oil theft, and anti-illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) operations.
“Others were Replenishment at Sea (RAS), Gunnery Exercise (GUNNEX), Communication Exercise (COMMEX), and Fleet Manoeuvre, among others.
“Distinguished guests, this assemblage of ships is adjudged the highest in recent Nigerian Navy history,” he said.
The CNS said 2023 had been a period of significant progress and accomplishment for the Nigerian Navy, adding that he came in with a vision to maintain a professional navy capable and responsive to the demands of the maritime environment.
He said that one of his primary objectives was to ensure that the Navy fleet was equipped and prepared to meet the evolving maritime security landscape.
“This year, we have made significant progress in fleet renewal efforts, with the acquisition of new vessels and the ongoing modernization of existing platforms.
“We have also continued to invest in maritime domain awareness.
“Through technological advancements and improved intelligence gathering, we have gained a deeper understanding of the activities within our waters.
“Furthermore, we have continued to contribute manpower and resources to ongoing land-based operations in the North East, North West, North Central, and other security hotspots in the country.
“This has significantly contributed to the improved security situation in the country,” he added.
Ogalla said the commitment of the navy to operational excellence had been evident in the successful execution of major exercises such as Grand Nemo Africa, Obangame Express 2023, Crocodile Lift, and Safe Domain.
He said the exercises saw the navy collaborate with international and regional partners to combat piracy and other forms of maritime crimes, thereby enhancing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the ceremonial sunset was an age-long tradition of navies worldwide to mark the end of activities over some time.
According to him, this year’s ceremony was intended to mark the end of the Nigerian Navy’s activities for 2023 as well as honour personnel who had distinguished themselves in various capacities during the year.
“As a Navy family, it also affords us the opportunity to celebrate the resilience, commitment, and unwavering dedication of our esteemed naval force.
“Tonight, as we have witnessed the sun set on another year, let us take a moment to reflect on the achievements and milestones we have collectively reached.”
The naval chief said the navy, under his command, prioritised the well-being of personnel, adding that he initiated key policy thrusts and welfare projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life of personnel within his first 100 days in office.
He thanked President Bola Tinubu for his unflinching support of the navy, which enabled it to achieve operational success.
He pledged to ensure that the navy remained focused on achieving its strategic objectives, adding that plans were ongoing to conduct a joint amphibious exercise with the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force in the coming year.
According to him, the exercise is aimed at strengthening our capacities in conducting amphibious operations and sealift capability while also deepening our partnership with international navies to conduct training exercises and share best practices.
“In the ensuing year, the Nigerian Navy intends to host an International Maritime Conference and Regional Maritime Exercise (INCREMEX), which will serve as a platform to foster dialogue and collaboration with our regional and international partners.
“To support research, innovation, and policy development in the field of maritime security, the Nigerian Navy, in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), South Africa, is working to establish the Nigerian International Institute for Maritime Affairs (NIIMA).
“In the area of fleet renewal, the Nigerian Navy will take delivery of a 2x76m OPV from Dearsan Shipyard in Turkiye, a 3x46m FPB from Poly Technologies in Jianglong, China, as well as a 32m FPB from OCEA Shipbuilding in France among other platforms, in 2024,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 58 personnel received the CNS Commendation Awards in different categories for distinguishing themselves in the areas of research and innovation, exemplary character, and gallantry.
Officers who have successfully held sea commands were awarded the command and sea badges. (NAN)
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