It was a grand ceremony in far away United Arab Emirate as top echelon of the Nigerian Navy and some federal government functionaries converge on Abu Dhabi to perform the Change of Flag Ceremony for the force’s latest acquisition, the Landing Ship Tank (LST)– 100.
The vessel which was built at the Albwardy Damen shipyard in the United Arab Emirate is christened Nigerian Navy Ship KADA (NNS KADA), set sail from the shipyard April 1, 2022 for a 56 days voyage to Nigeria.
Before she commenced the voyage, the naval ceremony of change of flag was carried out after which the vessel began the voyage at about 9:00am(Nigerian Time) .
The Nigerian Navy said the journey will last for 56 days and will include Port visits to Oman, Kenya, South Africa, Angola and Gabon. Before arriving Nigeria on May 27, 2022.
Addressing the Ship’s Company at the ceremony, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo noted that the foremost desire of every littoral state is to have a fleet with the right mix of platforms necessary for naval power protection in support of national and regional stability. Thus, he acknowledged that the homebound voyage of NNS KADA is yet another milestone achievement in Nigerian Navy’s fleet recapitalization efforts, adding that the subsequent induction of NNS KADA into Nigerian Navy fleet is coming at a time the nation is committed to the sustainable development of its Blue Economy.
Admiral Gambo said that that the recent commencement of the indigenous survey and charting of Nigeria’s offshore waters by the Navy’s Survey Ship NNS LANA as well as the addition of NNS KADA will no doubt improve maritime safety and security of shipping in Nigerian waters as well as facilitate the general well being of Nigerians and maritime trade in general.
He said that NNS KADA will further enhance Nigerian Navy deterrence capability against maritime crimes and illegalities within the nation’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea for legitimate socio – economic activities to thrive. Admiral Gambo also said the vessel will serve as a force multiplier in Nigerian Navy’s ability to project power, respond to crises, support other non-kinetic engagements as well as boost Nigerian Navy’s capability in support of the ECOWAS mandate. He equally noted with great delight that the acquisition could not have been possible without the support and commitment of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari whose desire is for the Nigerian Navy to have the requisite capability to meet her constitutional mandate for the nation’s economic prosperity.
Vice Admiral Gambo congratulated Damen Naval Shipbuilding for completing the platform as planned and for organising the Change of Flag ceremony. He appreciated all distinguished and invited guests, stating that their presence was an indication of the belief and confidence they have in the Nigerian Navy. He assured the good people of Nigeria that the Nigerian Navy will make judicious use of NNS KADA and other assets in the fleet as well as those to be added in future, to meet maritime security obligations for the overall good of the Nigerian economy.
On his part, the Honourable Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) in his speech, stated that NNS KADA was conceived as a replacement for the NNS AMBE and NNS OFIOM that were decommissioned about 10 years ago. These 2 Navy Ships had sealift capability and were of strategic relevance to the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Damen Schelde Shipbuilding was chosen to construct NNS KADA through a highly competitive bidding process and was selected to execute the construction based on its track record of high quality Shipbuilding capacity as well as the belief in the company’s ability to adhere to agreed timelines. The Minister congratulated the company for achieving this feat despite some competing factors and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He further stated that the induction of NNS KADA into the Nigerian Navy fleet will play a critical role in sealift of troops, maritime crises management especially by conveying relief materials thus contributing significantly to the promotion of humanitarian assistance within West Africa and beyond. He therefore appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment towards the recapitalization of the Nigerian Navy Fleet. Furthermore, he thanked Nigeria’s Ambassador to Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Alhaji Mohammed Dansanti Rimi, the management and staff of Damen Shipbuilding for their immense contributions towards the Change of Flag Ceremony. He stated that the Commanding Officer and his ships’ company should consider themselves privileged to be in charge of this magnificent new ship built by one of the best shipyards in Western Asia and also the only Landing Ship Tank in the entire West African Sub region.
Thereafter, the Ambassador of Nigeria to UAE, Mohammed Dansanta Rimi appreciated the UAE Government for granting permission to Damen Shipyard to put up this project. He commended Damen Shipyard for their impressive craftsmanship in the construction of the Landing Ship Tank. He added that the ever growing collaboration between Nigerian Navy and Messrs Damen Shipyard in the manufacturing of NNS KADA will increase further engagements between Nigeria and the UAE.