Contract for the purchase of two new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has been signed between the Nigerian Navy and Dearsan Shipyard in Turkey.
The contract iswhich will be completed within the next three years.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said Dearsan was selected based on its track record and cost-effective pricing. He added that the acquisition is part of the Nigerian Navy’s fleet renewal effort in line with its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.
The new vessels will be used for maritime interdiction operations, surveillance and special forces operations as well as providing naval fire support to land forces. “The OPVs will also be capable of conducting search and rescue operations, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and anti-drug trafficking operations and disaster relief operations among others,” Gambo said.
Chief Executive Officer of Dearsan Shipyard, Murat Gordi, said the project will further strengthen ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Turkey through the provision of added value in technological transfer and expertise.
The new vessels will be built to Dearsan’s OPV 76 design, which has a length of 76.8 metres, beam of 11 metres and draft of 2.9 metres. The steel-hulled vessels displace 1 100 tons and can accommodate 43 people. The type is powered by four MAN 18VP185 diesel engines giving a maximum speed of 28 knots and a range of 3 000 nautical miles. A helicopter can be carried on the aft deck.
Armament comprises a 76 mm Leonardo Super Rapid gun, a 40 mm Leonardo light naval gun, two 12.7 mm stabilized automatic machineguns, two 12.7 mm manually operated machineguns, and two MBDA SIMBAD-RC surface-to-air missile systems.
The Nigerian Navy continues to enhance its fleet, and on 25 October the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, launched four Semi Ballistic Gunboats constructed by the Naval Shipyard Limited in Port Harcourt. He said this was part of the development of local shipbuilding capabilities and the acquisition would enhance the military presence within Nigeria’s waterways in order to mitigate maritime security challenges in the Niger Delta.
Gambo stated that the construction of the Semi Ballistic Gunboats was another milestone in the provision of ongoing efforts to combat threats to the nation’s maritime interests.
The Nigerian Navy said in the last couple of months the patrolling of its maritime domain has led to a drastic reduction in acts of criminality, particularly maritime piracy in and around Nigerian territorial waters.
The Nigerian Navy recently hosted the Chief of the Ghana Navy to discuss collaborative efforts to combat piracy and other maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea and during the meeting, it was agreed that there was a need to establish a standing ECOWAS Multinational Task Force in the GoG, which Nigeria is willing to take part in.