Nigerian Navy explores frigate acquisition

*Featured image for illustrative purposes

With the conclusion of a two-day Nigerian Navy (NN) Retreat 2021 held at new Conference Hall of Naval Headquarters (NHQ), Abuja ended on Tuesday, the naval branch was advised to seek a new frigate flagship.

The expert recommendation aims to replace the former naval flagship Nigerian Navy Ship NNS ARADU.

The retreat titled, “Effective Management for Nigerian Navy Operational Efficiency,” was attended by Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Principal Staff Officers at NHQ, Flag Officers Commanding (FOCs) and Commanders of operations bases, while the rest of the NN units, ships and establishments participated virtually via Zoom video conference link.

The retreat also tasked the Navy to take advantage of existing Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) like Messrs MTU of Germany and Messrs Yamaha of Japan to improve availability of spares for improved naval platform availability.

Additionally, the Retreat also advocated for the establishment of a ‘Basic Maritime Operations Course’ for junior officers and ratings in the NN to improve human capacity for the conduct of effective maritime operations.

Nigerian Navy Strategic Modernization plan

The Nigerian Navy in mid-2009 presented its plans for its strategic goal in the short, medium and long term.

The then Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Ete Ibas, in a statement disclosed that “this strategic Directive is set out to guide the attainment of Nigerian Navy(NN) goals in areas considered critical to effectiveness of NN ‎operational, logistics and administrative process and procedures”.

The CNS noted that, “having identified where the challenges are, I thought I should come out with a directive which will guide all the commanders in ensuring that if the NN goals are to be achieved, we have to have certain direction”.

In the short term, the Navy required two light frigates, two 85 meter OPVs, six 17 meter Manta Class IPCs, six Shaldag MK 11 Patrol Craft, two 38 meter FPBs, two combat Augusta A138 helicopters, one Landing Platform Dock, and two Logistics Ships.

While the medium term spanning two-five years would require ten OPVs, 20 helicopters, one hydrographic ship, two training ships, two logistics ships, and two mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs).

In the long term spanning between five to ten years, the Nigerian Navy will require three Conventional Submarines, two corvettes, two LPDs, 20 long range maritime patrol helicopters, two training ships and two MCMVs.

NNS Aradu: former Nigerian flagship

Former NN flagship; NNS Aradu F89, (Hausa for “Thunder”) is a Meko 360H1 class multipurpose frigate based on the German Blohm & Voss MEKO 360 design pattern.

The NNS Aradu was laid down at the Blohm Voss shipyard in Hamburg on December 1, 1978, and launched on January 25, 1980, two years later. The ship replaced a smaller, older frigate, the NNS Obuma as the Nigerian Navy flagship.

By 2010, NNS Aradu was inoperable because of training and maintenance dearth in the Navy and compounded by financial problems brought about by the falling oil prices.

By early last year, NNS Aradu underwent a comprehensive refit at the Naval Dockyard limited in Victoria Island, Lagos in partnership with Habtop and Dorman Long.

At that time, Military Africa learnt that due to the age and obsolescence of its weapons, fire control and navigational systems, Aradu was given a new mission as a combat training ship for Nigeria’s new general-purpose frigate valued at $350 million, expected to be delivered in the coming years.

By July 2020, Aradu had completed its repairs, it was later towed to NNS Beecroft Apapa Jetty for sea trials and additional equipment fitting.

At her prime, NNS Aradu was capable of being armed with a wide range of armaments including anti-ship and anti-air missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes and rockets, as well as powerful naval guns.

Ekene Lionel

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