The Nigeria Navy says it has successfully secured the country’s territorial waters for local and international merchant ships to transport goods and services without fear of criminal attacks.
Rear Adm. Zakariyya Muhammad, Chief of Training and Operations, Nigeria Navy, gave this indication to newsmen in Onne, Rivers, at the end of a four-day naval expedition, codenamed “Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri 2023”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four-day exercise, tagged ‘Chief of the Naval Staff 2023 Annual Sea Inspection’, featured 13 warships, 88 patrol boats, two helicopters and 4,000 personnel.
Muhammad said the navy was able to fully secure the nation’s maritime environment with enhanced presence of its patrol boats and warships at sea.
“Our enhanced presence at sea had restored the confidence of merchant ships and other maritime stakeholders in conducting legitimate activities.
“This four-day exercise afforded us the opportunity to maintain presence at sea; enhance our maritime security – leading to interrogation of several ships and arrest of one.
“Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri has enhanced the training of personnel onboard our ships for better performance in delivering our constitutional mandate of securing Nigeria’s maritime domain,” he said.
Muhammad said that Nigeria’s maritime environment and economic zone were now secured which has impacted positively in security of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
“So, our increased presence at sea has given more confidence to merchant ships to carry their trade without fear or threat from maritime criminal elements.
“This exercise has also improved security within the wider GoG because our sister navies and countries are abreast that we are conducting this exercise,” he added.
Speaking, Navy Capt. Tony Archibong, Commanding Officer, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), Kada, said the exercise was an enormous success.
He said Exercise Nchekwa Oshimiri was part of actionable steps taken to end oil theft, sea robbery, sea piracy and illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, among others, in Nigeria’s waters.
According to him, the exercise was used to improve operational capability of Navy’s fleets and stimulate real-time operational scenarios.
“During the exercise, we had a merchant vessel stimulate a rogue vessel engaged in anti-piracy for which we dispatched NNS Aba and NNS Oji to intercept, board, seize and search the rogue vessel.
“The exercise is used to build confidence in our security architecture aimed to secure the maritime environment for mariners to continue to carry out their trade and economic activities.
“Therefore, this will benefit both the Nigerian people and other maritime stakeholders using our waters,” he said.
The Navy also conducted activities like anti-bunkering operation, fleet manoeuvring, gun exercises and replenishment (refuelling of warship from another) among others.