The Nigerian Navy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),with Dearsan Shipyard Turkey to remodel the force’s flagship, the NNS ARADU.
NNS ARADU, which was commissioned into the Nigerian Navy Fleet in 1985, had represented Nigeria in several military operations and exercises within Africa and beyond.
In his address during the ceremony held at the Nigerian Navy Headquarters in Abuja,Nigeria, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS),Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said wear and tear associated with sustained use as well as the harsh operating environment has taken its toll on the vessel.
He noted that NNS Aradu, is the only variant of the five MEKO 360 Frigates built in Germany for Argentine and Nigerian Navies, adding that the MoU was signed to refit the ship aimed at enhancing navy’s capability for enhanced security patrol within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
Admiral Gambo, said that the NNS ARADU, which was commissioned into the Nigerian Navy Fleet as the Flag Ship in 1985, had represented Nigeria in diverse naval operations and exercises within Africa and beyond.
He said: “However, with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the unrelenting efforts of the standing Senate Committee on rehabilitation of NNS ARADU, we are gathered here today to commence modalities to re-role and modernize the nation’s flag ship.
“Another significance of today’s event is the landmark agreement for the supply of additional 57-meters Fast Attack Craft to support the re-modelled Flag Ship.
“Undoubtedly, operationalization of these two vessels will not only increase the fleet of ships but also reposition the Nigerian navy for enhanced maritime security operations for socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria and Africa at large,”.
Gambo, said that the choice of partnering with Messrs Dearsan Shipyard was based on the company’s track record in high-quality ship building capability as well as strict adherence to agreed timelines.
According to him, the firms was currently constructing two High Endurance 76 meters Offshore Patrol Vessels for the navy in Turkey.
He said a major consideration is the fact that several equipment, auxiliaries and subsystems being used in the construction of the offshore patrol vessels would be fitted onboard NNS ARADU.
This, according to him, is to further enhance operability and equipment standardisation, which undoubtedly would guarantee
seamless maintenance necessary to extend the life span of the remodeled flag ship.
He said the MoU would re-ignite the partnership between both organisations in promoting synergy towards enhancing security as well as fostering operations and shipbuilding engagements that would enhance capability for the sustainable development of the Blue Economy for Nigeria’s prosperity.
Gambo appreciated the sustained efforts and support from the federal government, saying it had been instrumental to successes recorded by the Nigerian navy.
The navy chief expressed confidence that the shipyard would actualise a high-quality result and deliver both vessels on schedule.
He implored both parties to be committed towards attainment of the objectives.
Earlier in his address, the Chief Policy and Plans (Navy), Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, while noting that the 125.6 meter ship was the largest in the navy inventory as a general proposed frigate, said that NNS ARADU was an all-purpose frigate fighting ship capable of undertaking several missions in concert with other units.
He said it has a sustained and independent blue water patrol over a range of 6500 miles and provides gunfire support to friendly forces operating up to 16 kilometers from the coast.
“It has capability for air defense. And submarine warfare, electronic warfare and the ship warfare missiles main lane, as well as airborne or surface search and rescue.
“Since our entry into the service, NNS Aradu has taken part in major naval exercises, fleet reviews and diplomatic cruises.
“The ship has undertaken extensive diplomatic visits to countries like Gabon, Congo, Zaire, Equatorial Guinea and numerous European countries.
Also speaking, Managing Director, Dearsan Shipyard Turkey, Mr Mukat Gordi, while commending the Nigerian navy for the opportunity to take responsibility as the prime contractor of NNS ARADU modernisation program, said the relationship between the navy and the company had started following the signing ceremony of 76m offshore patrol vessels in December 2021.
He said the 76m OPVS programme had progressed as planned, adding that they aimed to launch the OPVS by the end of the year and deliver the vessels earlier than the contractual dates.
“Since we are aware the historical importance of NNS ARADU as being the flagship of the Nigerian navy, we have initiated our surveys onboard the NNS ARADU last year and finalised it during our latest visit to Lagos this week.
“Therefore, we would like to emphasise once again that we are highly honored for having this chance of being the prime contractor of NNS ARADU modernisation program.
“We assure you that we will accomplish the modernization and refit program according to our contract in time and deliver to the Nigerian Navy.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Sen. George Sekibo, in an interview with journalists said the navy had worked excellently with the Senate to achieved results.
He said the signing of the MoU was a landmark achievement owing to the fact that the refitting of the ship appeared impossible at a time.