- The Nigerian maritime environment is often described as the lifeblood of the national economy owing to its endowment with abundant living and hydrocarbon resources. This emphasizes the need for an appropriate mechanism to safeguard the integrity of the maritime domain for the sustenance of the nation’s socio-economic aspirations. The NN is saddled with the responsibility of defending the country’s territorial integrity, maintaining her sea lanes of communication and maritime resources. In the last 2 decades, the Service has been engaged primarily with policing activities in the face of multi-dimensional maritime threats, especially crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism and piracy as well as internal security breaches and other asymmetric threats.
- Over the past few years, the NN has evolved specific doctrines to guide its procedures for effective policing of the maritime environment. These actions have substantially mitigated the threats in the domain leading to relative improvement in security within the nation’s waters and enhanced revenue for government. I will therefore use this opportunity to brief you on the operational activities of the NN and efforts towards securing the nation’s maritime environment.
- The aim of this brief is to acquaint the Senate Committee on Navy with an overview of operational activities of the NN.
- To achieve this aim, the brief shall cover the following:
a. Nigeria’s Maritime Environment.
b. Roles and Organization of the Nigerian Navy.
c. Nigerian Navy’s Maritime Strategy.
d. Nigerian Navy Strategic Approach to Maritime Operations.
e. Challenges to Nigerian Navy’s Operational Effectiveness.
f. Some Achievements of the Nigerian Navy from July 2015-2019.
g. Recent Activities of the Nigerian Navy and Future Perspectives.
NIGERIA’S MARITIME ENVIRONMENT
- Nigeria lays claim to a 12nm territorial waters, 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has initiated the process of claiming a 350nm extended continental shelf. With a coastline of 420 nm, the nation lays claim to a total maritime environment of about 147,000 sq nm or about one-third of Nigeria’s land mass which the NN is statutorily required to protect. Nigeria is also expected to project force in defence of her maritime interests from her immediate backwaters to the limits of the Gulf of Guinea, which constitutes her maritime area of interest.
- Nigeria’s maritime environment serves as a store house for both living and hydrocarbon resources, accounting for about 40 per cent of the country’s GDP and 95 per cent of total export. This huge dependence on oil and gas for national socio-economic development emphasizes the strategic importance of the environment. Any impediment to free movement or trade through Nigeria’s area of maritime interest will have undesirable impact not just on the economies of the nation, but the global economy to some extent. There is therefore the need for a virile navy to secure this critical domain.
ROLES AND ORGANIZATION OF THE NIGERIAN NAVY
- The National Defence Policy charges the NN with the responsibility of meeting the Nation’s maritime defence objectives, including the defence and protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity and vital economic interests that exist in the backwaters, territorial waters and EEZ. The core objective of the NN remains the defence of Nigeria’s territorial integrity at sea from external aggressors. However, whilst the requirement to conduct maritime combat operations remains valid, emerging trends has seen a shift to maritime security operations concerning the protection of maritime commerce, the environment and containment of maritime terrorism, as well as other policing functions.
- To effectively meet these roles across the nation’s huge maritime environment, the NN is structured into a Naval Headquarters with 9 staff branches. There are also 5 commands, consisting of 3 operations commands, a training command and logistics command as well 3 autonomous units. The operations commands provide the necessary kinetic capability for the protection of the nation’s territorial integrity and policing of the maritime domain. The commands are thus equipped with seagoing ships, Special Boat Service (SBS) detachments, as well as major operations bases and Forward Operating Bases (FOB). To ensure that the NN retains such a wide spectrum of capabilities needed to continually deliver optimally at sea, she requires a coherent maritime strategy.
NIGERIAN NAVY’S MARITIME STRATEGY
- The NN articulated the ‘Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy’ (TSMS) in 2012 as an operational concept that would guide her operations in all environments which the NN envisages to operate for the protection of Nigeria’s core and vital interests. The Strategy is guided by specific and implied roles gleaned from the 1999 Constitution, Defence Policy, National Security Policy and the NN Revised Transformation Plan (NNTP) 2011-2020. The CNS Strategic Directives 1 and 2, also set critical milestones to be realized from the TSMS alongside the R-NNTP. The Strategy is based on proactive responses which provide for the application of naval power flexibly over 5 different spectrums.
- Spectrum 1. Spectrum 1 covers Nigeria’s backwaters and inland waterways, ports, rivers, lakes and the coastal areas of the Niger Delta where insurgency, sea robbery and other crimes that border on economic sabotage and resource theft are prevalent. The NN’s operations in this Spectrum is in 3 basic forms; including choke point management and control operations involving the deployment of armed personnel in houseboats supported by patrol boats at identified strategic entrances to the creeks, to deny access to crude oil thieves. This strategy has significantly discouraged the conveyance of stolen crude from inshore to sea. The NN also activated riverine operations like Op RIVER SWEEP to check illegal refining activities in the nation’s backwaters. In addition to dismantling illegal refining sites and arrest of boats and barges, swamp buggies are used to prevent the reactivation of earlier destroyed sites while extensive public re-orientation is on-going to sensitise coastal communities on the negative economic and environmental impact of this menace. Lastly, under the leadership of the NN, Op DELTA SAFE (OPDS) has sustained the protection of shipping, oil and gas installations and curtailed various acts of criminality in the Niger Delta while another NN led joint operations Op AWATSE was launched in 2014 to curb pipeline vandalism and illegal petroleum dealings with a mandate to secure NNPC pipelines between Lagos and Ogun States.
- Spectrum 2. Spectrum 2 covers the territorial waters extending from the nation’s coastline to 12nm seawards to check illegal fishing, illegal oil bunkering, smuggling, maritime terrorism and the protection of oil and gas infrastructure. The NN employs a dedicated maritime operation code-named Op TSARE TEKU to maintain credible presence in areas prone to such infractions. This has resulted in NN ships covering over 20,000 hours at sea annually since 2016, leading to the lowest incidents of sea robbery a other infractions in Nigeria’s waters since 2015. From the TSMS in 2012, a minimum of 135 SDBs were required to effectively police Spectrum 2. However, the NN currently has a less than 50 of this category of vessels, leaving a shortfall of almost 90 vessels. The expediency of these vessels necessitated the introduction of MOUs with Private Maritime Logistics Companies, with over 150 vessels currently engaged in the safeguard of critical oil and gas infrastructure in the nation’s maritime domain.
- Spectrum 3. NN operations in Spectrum 3 cover Nigeria’s EEZ up to 200 nm seawards to mitigate acts of insurgency, maritime terrorism, piracy and economic sabotage. This Spectrum overlaps with the EEZ of other African nations within the GoG, thus making multinational cooperative maritime security a prerequisite for maintenance of ocean governance and good order at sea. In addition to the deployment of NN capital ships like the OPVs, with higher endurance, the NN exploits her regional cooperation with friendly navies of the GoG for maritime interdiction operations within this Spectrum.
- Spectrum 4. Spectrum 4 covers Nigeria’s outermost maritime area of interest, encompassing the entire West African waters and the GoG. Envisaged operations within this area include maritime power projection, multinational coalition and defence of Nigeria’s interests. For example, the NN made the nation proud by deploying NNS UNITY for Op RESTORE DEMOCRACY in The Gambia in 2017, while 2 NN ships also participated in the 60th anniversary of the Ghana Navy in July 2019.
- Spectrum 5. Spectrum 5 operations are usually joint in nature involving Internal Security, Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism operations under the auspices of Military Aid to Civil Authority and Military Aid to Civil Power. The NN has been quite effective in this spectrum with the provision of special operations support to Ops WHIRL STROKE, SAFE HAVEN, SAFE CORRIDOR and LAFIYA DOLE.
NIGERIAN NAVY’S STRATEGIC APPROACH TO MARITIME OPERATIONS
- The NN’s strategic approach to maritime operations across the 5 spectrums is patterned along a Trinity of Action encompassing surveillance, response capacity and law enforcement.
- Maritime Surveillance. The NN conducts a round the clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using its Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) infrastructure, in addition to the use of surface vessels and helicopters. The MDA infrastructure comprises several functional radar sites and Command and Control Centres across the nation’s coastline, including one at the Naval Headquarters. These assets ensure effective electronic tracking of vessels within our waters and also serve as force multipliers to ensure NN patrols are now more result oriented and cost effective.
- Response Capacity. To ensure adequate response capacity to tackle piracy and sea robbery as well as illegal refining and other threats to peaceful use of the maritime environment, the NN instituted dedicated operations and initiatives such as Op TSARE TEKU and Op RIVER SWEEP amongst others. These response initiatives ensure that perpetrators of any infractions within the maritime domain are promptly apprehended for trial.
- Law Enforcement. Law enforcement is the last aspect of NNs trinity of action needed to secure the nation’s maritime domain. This process goes beyond mere arrests and prosecution to include collaboration with other stakeholders for effective law enforcement. The NN has developed an efficient operational synergy with other maritime security agencies and stakeholders through interagency collaboration. One positive outcome of such consultation is the launch of the Harmonised Standard Op Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons (HSOP AD&P) in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment by the Vice President in January 2017. Considering the transnational and migratory nature of maritime crimes, the NN also collaborates with regional navies and international partners to boost maritime law enforcement across national maritime boundaries to improve security in the GoG. These collaborations take the form of sea exercises and capacity development programmes, such as the annual US-led Ex OBANGAME EXPRESS, Op JUNCTION RAIN and the French-led Exercise AFRICAN NEMO.
SOME ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE NIGERIAN NAVY FROM JULY 2015 – 2019
- The NN has recorded several achievements from July 2015 to date in the performance of her statutory roles. Major achievements are in contributions to national economic development, adherence to the NN’s Transformation Plan as well as maritime law enforcement, among others.
- Contributions of NN Operations to National Economic Development. The NN has made significant contributions to the sustenance of the nation’s economic development within the past 4 years, particularly in the protection of the nation’s hydrocarbon infrastructure and prevention of resource theft at sea. The NNPC has attested to the successes of NN riverine operations, confirming huge savings due to massive reductions in pipeline losses. Others are in anti-piracy operations and the anti-smuggling patrols which have curbed the smuggling of prohibited items into the country and given bite to the nation’s policy against illegal importation of rice and other contraband products under Op SWIFT RESPONSE. Accordingly, there has been a successive decline in reported cases of pirate/sea robbery attacks within Nigeria’s maritime domain since 2015. NN operations have equally contributed to improved shipping into Nigeria’s waters with attendant positive impact on the nation’s economy.
- Adherence to the R-NNTP 2011 – 2020. Over the past 4 years, the NN has made concerted efforts to implement the TP along identified lines; fleet renewal, capacity building and logistics. Accordingly, the NN prioritized her projects, budgets and plans in line with these pillars:
- Fleet Renewal. The NN has made significant strides in the recapitalization of her fleet over the past few years. With the support of the FGN, the NN has acquired offshore patrol vessels, fast attack craft and more than 300 inshore patrol crafts. Ongoing foreign constructions expected within the short-to-medium term include the 100m Landing Ship Tank from DAMEN Shipyard Netherlands, 60m Hydrographic Survey Vessel from OCEA shipyards in France and 2x 40m fast patrol boats from DAMEN Shipyard in Vietnam as well as 4 x 17m fast attack craft from ARESA Shipyard in Spain. The NN is also in the process of procuring UAVs to enhance our response capability. In consolidation of the local shipbuilding effort, indigenous construction of the Seaward Defence Boat 3 as well as water and fuel badges and houseboats are progressing steadily. The fleet renewal programme has evidently paid off with increased NN footprints across the maritime domain leading to the arrest of over 200 vessels and hundreds of suspects for various maritime offences in the last 4 years, aside the huge deterrence value.
- Capacity Building. The NN has greatly enhanced the capacity of her personnel by investing in operational and specialized technical manpower training of NN personnel with various original equipment manufacturers abroad. Of significance is the MTU 2000/4000 series Engine training and the medical diagnostic equipment training with their respective manufacturers in Germany as well as the establishment of an Outboard Engine School at the NN Engineering College in Sapele to build capacity for maintenance of the over 600 outboard engines in the navy’s inventory. The NN has also commenced to reactivation of the Apprenticeship Training School at Naval Dockyard Limited Lagos to help build requisite capacity for skilled manpower amongst artisans like wielders, fitters and special equipment operators. Capacity development in these specialized areas has significantly contributed to the Navy’s capacity for the maintenance of her platforms and the local shipbuilding effort.
- Logistics. Several infrastructural, administrative and welfare projects have been consummated during the period under consideration. Notably, over 300 construction and related projects have been undertaken from 2015 to 2019 with over 80 per cent of these projects completed and others are at various stages of completion. A key infrastructural project is the reconstruction of NNS BEECROFT Jetty Apapa, Lagos while jetties at NOP KOLUAMA and other FOBs are at various stages of construction. The NN has also sustained the procurement of assorted utility vehicles, POL and other material supplies while significantly bridging existing gaps in its arms, ammunition and Personal Protective Equipment requirement through procurement.
- Improved Maritime Law Enforcement. The NN’s collaboration with other stakeholders has improved maritime law administration in the country resulting in the arrest of over 200 vessels and several other seizures within the past 3 years. The effectiveness of the HSOP as a legal instrument for the administration of maritime crimes in Nigeria, has also been further boosted by Mr President’s assent to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill of 2019. The Act would serve as strategic deterrent to the commission of various criminalities within the nation’s maritime environment and curtail the excesses of syndicates sponsoring acts of piracy in the GoG. The Act also demonstrates the government’s resolve to enforce maritime law within the region.
CHALLENGES TO NIGERIAN NAVY’S OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS
- In spite of the achievements recorded, there are a number of challenges militating against NN’s effective delivery of maritime security. I shall brief on the following:
- Shortage of Platforms. Shortage of platforms is unarguably the most serious challenge confronting the Navy, considering the vast maritime space to be covered. The platform inadequacy and availability challenge can be traced to the NN’s participation in ECOMOG operations in 1990s, which prevented deployed platforms from undergoing regular planned maintenance schedule and refit. Coupled with international restrictions placed on the AFN by foreign nations during the period, efforts to revamp the fleet could not be optimized. Currently, the present number and mix of platforms in the NN inventory is grossly inadequate vis-a-vis the scope of her tasks and the vastness of her Area of Responsibility (AOR). Overall, this inadequacy adversely affects the NN’s capacity to effectively secure the maritime environment, making fleet recapitalization a top priority and urgent requirement. Hence, the MOUs with PMLCs only serves to argument NN platform requirement to enable her meet the enormous responsibility at sea.
- Inadequate Jetties. Jetties for berthing NN ships/boats are critical requirements for NN operations just as runways are critical to NAF operations. Unfortunately, while the FG undertakes the construction of runways in Nigeria due to associated huge cost, jetties are left for the NN to construct from its meager allocation. This has resulted in inadequate jetties in NN bases and units. The NN seeks the support of this Committee to timeously address this challenge.
- Obsolete Logistics Support Facilities. Adequate logistics support facilities are crucial for effective naval operations. In particular, major NN repair facilities such as the Naval Dockyard Limited and Naval Shipyard Limited lack essential equipment for modern shipbuilding and repair activities. Without adequate investment in their upgrade, maintenance challenge will continue to dog the Navy with negative operational consequences.
- Weak Legislative and Legal Regimes. While the NN and maritime law enforcement agencies have made commendable effort in the arrest and prosecution of maritime offenders, loopholes in the nation’s judicial processes are exploited by criminals leading to prolonged litigation and several abandoned vessels across NN Bases. This compels the Service to commit substantial resources, in securing the vessels before the conclusion of trials. To limit NN’s responsibility or risk of liability, an appropriate legal framework including setting up of tribunals or designated maritime courts and closer liaison with prosecuting agencies is necessary for the expeditious prosecution of maritime crimes in Nigeria.
- Weak Hydrographic Survey Capability. The NN is statutorily responsible for the collection, storage and dissemination of national hydrographic data, but the navy is poorly equipped for any impact, thus relying on outside help with its negative implications. The NN will require 3 categories of hydrographic platforms of over 50m, 30 – 50m, and below 30m length with associated gears to effectively contribute to safer navigation, security and improved revenue for the nation. Furthermore, the upgrade of NN Hydrography Department to National Hydrography Office needs to be given attention.
- Shortage of Barracks Accommodation. Available NN barracks accommodation are inadequate and mostly in need of urgent rehabilitation. Notably, less than 45 per cent of NN personnel are currently quartered in NN barracks. This situation makes it difficult to mobilize naval personnel in event of emergencies and operational exigencies. Consequently, massive construction of barracks accommodation for the Navy needs to be made a priority.
- Inadequate Funding. The aforementioned constraints have persisted largely because of inadequate funding of the NN over the years. It is hoped that the Distinguished Committee would support the call for improved funding of the NN.
RECENT ACTIVITIES OF THE NIGERIAN NAVY AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVES
- NN Recent Activities. The NN, through the FGN’s untiring support has maintained a responsive posture in her maritime policing activities across the nation’s maritime environment. The huge participation of the Service in Op SWIFT RESPONSE and Op CALM WATERS has helped to consolidate the on-going efforts against crude theft, piracy and smuggling. Recently, the Navy has also intensified enforcement of the nation’s anti-illegal fishing regulations in line with her statutory mandate. These operational activities have resulted in huge successes in NN anti-COT, piracy and border security operations.
- Deep Blue Project. The Deep Blue Project (DBP) is a maritime security project conceived by the FMOT aimed at combating piracy and other criminalities in the nation’s maritime domain. The Project comprises procurement of equipment and systems, and training for their operation and maintenance. The NN has been collaborating with the FMOT through NIMASA with whom an existing MOU is currently running. The main deliverables for the NN from the Project are 3x Leonardo Helicopter (LH109) Grand New, 2 x 55M Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) and 17 x 9.6m Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) as interceptor boats. Others are UAVs, C4I Center and training facilitation for the intervention team. The NN however, counts on the Committee’s support for FMoT to make provision for the sustenance of this critical equipment, to avoid past mistakes.
- Future NN Perspectives. The NN has made modest achievements despite tight fiscal conditions through diligent fiscal discipline and strict adherence to the Transformation Plan and the CNS Strategic Directives. In the words of Italian General Giulio Douhet ‘Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war, not upon those who wait to adapt themselves after the changes occur’. Accordingly, the NN intends to build on the on-going fleet recapitalization programme by pushing for the urgent acquisition of more platforms for the NN.
- The Distinguished Chairman Sir, other members of the Senate Committee on Navy, it has been my rare privilege to acquaint you with the issues and challenges facing the NN in securing Nigeria’s maritime environment while highlighting the operating strategy and some modest achievements of the Service. For any littoral nation whose economic prosperity is mostly domiciled within the backwaters, the primacy of military power to deter and safeguard her economic power cannot be overemphasized. The nation’s economic centre of gravity falls within the operational domain of the NN, thus making the Navy a vital driver, guardian and enabler for Nigeria’s economic aspiration.
- Over the years, the NN has proved to be a critical enabler to securing the nation’s economic lifeline at sea. The Navy remains capable of doing even more, if availed the necessary platforms and materiel. Suffice to mention that while the funds needed to maintain a virile fleet might appear high, the expediency of a virile Navy to the nation’s economic prosperity and chances of incurring even higher losses for failing to adequately equip the NN would not be an option. On this note Sir, on behalf of the CNS, officers, ratings and civilian staff of the NN, I have the honour and privilege to once again welcome you all to NHQ. Onward Together and God Bless.
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