Six warships, two helicopters and an elements of the Special Boat Service (SBS) alongside 2 Deep Blue Project ships have been deployed for the Western Naval Command Sea Exercise, tagged EXERCISE OMI MIMO.

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rea admiral Jason Gbassa who flagged off the Exercise on Wednesday said the sea maneuver will run for three days .

His words: “Omi Mimo is an operational exercise, in the series of exercises scheduled for all Commands. Omi Mimo exercise is for the last quarter of the year, and it is to assess the operational state of our ship, the state of readiness of our men, equipment, and build on the progress recorded by the command, throughout the year. The main objective is to keep everyone prepared as we move into the end of the year, and the approaching new year.”

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He continued: “Amidst the gloomy picture painted about our country (Nigeria), that our efforts are beginning to bear fruit. We were able to achieve this through our effective presence at sea, the daily deployment of ship, and the effective use of our Maritime domain awareness assets, that give us a twenty-four hours coverage view of activities within the maritime domain”

The FOC said that the exercise would enable the Command to assess the state of readiness and other operational status of ships in her fleet.

“The exercise will also provide the platform to align our training objectives with our operational requirements in furtherance of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo’s vision and mission for the Nigerian Navy,” Gbassa said.

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In his words: “We appreciate the CNS for his unyielding support for the Command. We are aware resources available are limited against numerous competing demands. We are however glad that the CNS always makes the case of WNC a priority”

“all criminal elements sabotaging our collective prosperity within WNC AOR are denied freedom of action by effectively and efficiently bringing them to book”

According to him, the participating ships include: NNS PROSPERITY, NNS EKULU, NNS NGURU, NNS ABA, NNS OSUN and NNS OSE. Others are Deep Blue vessels ABUJA and LAGOS.

“Some of the exercises that have been scheduled include anti-piracy operations, oil rig protection, fleet manoeuvre, communication exercise, Vessel Board Search and Seizure, Search and Rescue among others.

“Ex OMI MIMO will provide invaluable maritime combat experiences that will help the Command to stay relevant in our quest to dominate our entire maritime environment.

The FOC said that collaborative efforts have resulted in some high-profile arrests which were currently either being investigated or handed over to relevant security agencies for prosecution.

Gbassa said that the effective use of the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) facilities had helped the Command to be precise in its targeting and effective hunt for rogue vessels.

“The Command enjoyed the support of other Commands and military formations as well as decisive collaboration from maritime stakeholders, both local and international, to enhance its policing duty.

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“These were achieved through series of planned and coordinated operations targeted at specific decisive conditions and its accompanying special effects in our maritime line of operation”.

Now, with the support of other Maritime Stakeholders which we must acknowledge. The level of synergy within our agencies improved throughout the year, and we’re looking forward to more. The combination of all efforts resulted in what the International Maritime Bureau as acknowledged, while other foreign partners if observed, are coming around to exercise with us almost every month, in a bid to partner with us”

We must recognise the fact that global trade is largely done on sea. That means in Maritime Terms, the countries of the world are your neighbours. One of our neighbours is Brazil, in South America. What affects Nigeria in terms of trade, will affect any other country that is trading with Nigeria.

“To that extent, everyone is interested in finding solutions to inhibit criminals as it will affect trade all over the world, what will attract other partners to collaborate with you is for you to show capacity”

“Within the African continent, the Nigerian Navy is recognised as a dominant force. It is indeed an hegemony within the region and across the continent. Nigerian Navy is recognised for its capability to contain criminal elements within our waters”

Ex OMI MIMO therefore, is basically conceived to consolidate on the gains so far made by the Command. For the first time in decades, the Gulf of Guinea recorded its lowest incidence of piracy with same being said for sea robbery in our maritime domain.

“What is more interesting is that within the WNC AOR, only one incident of pirate attack occurred in the first 3 quarters of 2021 despite the Domain accounting for about 90 percent of Nigeria’s shipping activities. This is a feat we intend to guide jealously and even improve upon”

He further stated that the Ex OMI MIMO will equally enable the Command to assess the state of readiness and other operational status of ships in her fleet as we round up the year and transit to 2022.

According to the FOC, It is hoped that Ex OMI MIMO will provide invaluable maritime combat experiences that will help the Command to stay relevant in our quest to dominate our entire maritime environment. We will continue to sustain and improve on these efforts in order to attain the desired goal.

“Added to this fact is systematic improvements within the last few years, which has encourage our partners to come and collaborate with us. In subsequent years, we expect to see more collaborations from all over the world” he concluded.

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