The Nigerian Navy (NN) fleet friday received a boost with the arrival of the newly acquired warship, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Centenary F91, stealth Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV).
The vessel which was constructed by China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Limited Shipyard, berthed at the NN dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos and was received by the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin.
The OPV after its commissioning would be deployed alongside the other newly acquired vessel from United States, NNS Okpabana, to tackle the menace of maritime illegalities that bedevil the nation’s maritime domain.
The vessel set sail from the China in December and was brought back to Nigerian waters by the Commanding Officer, Captain Donald Okeiyi with his crew.
At the reception were the Flag Officers Commanding, Western Naval Command and Naval Training Command, Rear Admirals JKZ Ango and BA Egbedina.
Others are the Chief of Transformation, Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade as well as Rear Admiral Goddy Anyakpele, among other senior naval officers.
While receiving the vessel, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, said the addition to the fleet would boost the navy’s war against maritime crimes within the maritime domain like illegal fishing, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, smuggling and piracy.
He said, “The addition of the offshore patrol vessel to the NN fleet would definitely enhance the navy’s capacity to execute her constitutional roles and open a new vista in Nigeria-China relations.
“Effective security is a pre-requisite for the economic wellbeing of Nigeria in view of the country’s heavy dependence on the sea.
“I am glad to acknowledge that President Goodluck Jonathan recognises this imperative and has given unprecedented support to the fleet recapitalisation pillar of the NN transformation plan for the period 2010-2020.
“The arrival of NNS Centenary in Nigeria bears testimony to the commitment and resolve of the president to emplace a strong and virile navy capable of protecting Nigeria’s maritime interests against all forms of threats.”
He also disclosed that the newly arrived vessel was merely one of the two OPV acquired from China for the navy, adding that the second one would arrive Nigeria later in the year.
Jibrin said a substantial part of the finishing and fittings for the second vessel would be done in Nigeria, in order to enhance Nigeria’s indigenous shipbuilding capacity and create jobs for the unemployed youths.
Also speaking, the Consul General of the Republic of China, Kan Liu who was representing the ambassador said Nigeria and China had always had a cordial relationship.
He said that relationship has helped bolster the trade volume between both countries especially last year to the tune of 18.1billion dollars.
He said, “We have had very close relationship with Nigeria and deeper cooperation in various fields including military cooperation and we both benefit from the relationship.”
The arrival of Centenary has brought the number of vessels acquired for the NN to two, including OKPABANA, which was gotten from the United States government.