Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, has said Nigeria’s wealth, peace and survival depends on the sea, and that the Navy is ready to protect it.
Ezeoba said the onus was on the Navy to develop requisite operational capabilities to achieve efficiency in order to tackle emerging operational security threats within the maritime domain.
The CNS said this on Saturday in Calabar, Cross River State, to mark the ceremonial sunset on the occasion of the Nigerian Navy Week 2013.
The event attracted commandants from the Army, Air Force, Police, State Security Services and the Cross River State Governor Liyel Imoke, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham.
Ezeoba, whose speech was read by the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Joseph Aikhomu, said efforts were being constantly intensified to put in place a virile fleet that would effectively tackle the security threats in the maritime domain.
The CNS said, “The current dispensation requires that we develop requisite operational capability to achieve optimal efficiency to deal with contemporary and emerging operational security threats particularly within our maritime domain.
“This is given that the wealth, peace and indeed the survival of our nation depends on the sea, the protection of which rests upon the Nigerian Navy.”
The CNS also said in order to meet the mandate given by President Goodluck Jonathan to eradicate crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and other illegalities in the sea, a strategic guidance had been developed to provide operational framework.
He said, “In fulfillment of the operational objectives as outlined in my strategic guidance, exercise FARAUTA, which took place from November 11 to 17, 2012, in the Bights of Benin and Bonny was the first bold step towards the fight against crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and piracy, among others.
“The exercise paid off as it led to the boarding, search and arrest of vessels. In all, increased patrols by the three operational commands have resulted in the arrest of over 40 vessels and destruction of many barges.”
He said three Mark Two boats and two fast patrol boats were on February 11, 2013 unveiled at the Naval Base in Apapa, Lagos State, to join the fleet of surveillance.
In his address, Cobham said the current security situation in the country called for more aggressive challenge.
While noting that a lot of sacrifice had been made by the Navy and other security agencies to ensure safety of lives and property, he said it was necessary to continue to develop new strategies to tackle emerging challenges.
Meanwhile, the United States of America has concluded arrangement to transfer two of her vessels to the Nigerian Navy to enhance the war against oil theft, piracy and other illegal activities in the maritime environment.
Ezeoba named the two vessels as the United States Navy Survey Ship MCDONELL and the United States Coast Guard Cutter GALLATIN.
“It is expected that the transfer of these ships to the Nigerian Navy would be actualised before the end of the year,” he said.
He also said two ships currently undergoing construction in China would join the Nigerian Naval fleet before the end of 2014.