A 5- day combined naval exercise codenamed GRAND AFRICAN NEMO (Navy exercise for maritime operations) has been flagged off in Nigerian waters. Co-ordinated by the French Navy, GRAND AFRICAN NEMO 2019 involves the participation of four Nigerian Navy ships and a helicopter.
The Exercise is aimed at supporting the efforts of regional navies to counter criminal activities in the maritime domain through different operational modes of planned exercises. Furthermore, the conduct of this year’s exercise will facilitate the involvement of various key ministries and departments namely Ministries of Justice, Finance, Interior, and Ministry of Agriculture as well as Department of Fisheries and provide opportunities for inter-agency cooperation among major stakeholders in the maritime sector for enhanced security. The Exercise is also aimed at supporting the efforts made by regional navies and allied nations and is also being conducted to assist in training regional Maritime Operations Centers in sharing real time information and capacity building.
The 4 ships and one helicopter deployed for the Exercise will carry out various naval drills together with other foreign ships within Nigerian waters which is in line with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, to end crude oil theft and economic sabotage in the nation’s maritime environment through enhanced patrol and operations. The ships will conduct Visit Board Search and Seizure, Search and Rescue, Anti-Piracy and Anti-Poaching drills, Visual Communications and Casualty Evacuation exercises as well as Fleet Maneuvers will also be conducted among others. The 5-day Exercise will culminate in a debriefing for the review and assessment of conduct of the Exercise in order to improve future exercises and perfect strategies at tackling maritime crimes.
GRAND AFRICAN NEMO has its genesis in the 2013 Yaounde, Cameroon summit in which countries which border the gulf of guinea (Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe Angola and Congo) pledged to strengthen maritime security operation. It could be recalled that in an effort to counter piracy and other illegal activities in the West and Central African sub region, the Yaoundé Declaration on the Gulf of Guinea Security was adopted in June 2013. Two key resolutions of the Declaration were the creation of an Inter- Regional Coordination Centre on Maritime Safety and Security for West and Central Africa to be headquartered in Yaoundé Cameroun. The second resolution was the implementation of a new Code of Conduct on the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illegal maritime activities in West and Central Africa. The Declaration has been operationalized since the signing of the agreement by Heads of States and Governments of member countries in the same year.
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