The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas has affirmed the readiness of the Nigerian Navy (NN) to secure the nation’s economic lifelines at sea. Speaking during an interactive session with members of the Senate Committee on the Navy, Vice Admiral Ibas further submitted that if the necessary platforms and material are available, the Service remains capable of doing even more to safeguard the nation’s maritime environment.

While being mindful of the financial constraints of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Admiral Ibas stressed that any expenditure on the NN is an investment towards enhancing the nation’s economic and national development. He therefore solicited the support of the Committee towards the realization of this objective.

According to the CNS, with the support of the Federal Government, the NN has been able to acquire offshore patrol vessels, fast attack craft and more than 300 riverine patrol crafts while concurrent effort is also being made to encourage operational training and indigenous shipbuilding capacity. This, he informed, has paid off with the arrest of over 200 vessels and hundreds of suspects for various maritime offences in the last 4 years, aside the incalculable deterrence value created.

Vice Admiral Ibas submitted that over the past few years, the NN has also made significant contributions to the nation’s economic development, particularly in the protection of the nation’s hydrocarbon infrastructure and curbing resource theft at sea. Others are in anti-piracy operations and the anti-smuggling patrols which have limited the smuggling of prohibited items into the country and given bite to the nation’s policy against illegal importation of rice and other contrabands with a successive decline in reported cases of pirate/sea robbery attacks within Nigeria’s maritime domain since 2015, he said.

The CNS observed that despite these positive gains, there are a number of challenges militating against NN’s effective delivery including the vastness of Nigeria’s maritime space and the current NN platform holding which is inadequate to effectively protect the domain and its strategic resources. He said that more ships with prolonged endurance such as Offshore Patrol Vessels are specially required for deep offshore operations.

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