Military worldwide carry out exercises for different reasons. While some do so for contemporary security challenges, others engage in exercises for operational and training purposes.
The need for training and retraining has become expedient to navies of the world because of the dynamics of security issues.
Africa being part of the world has had its own share of these security challenges.
Some of these threats include; sea piracy, hostage taking, illegal bunkering, illegal fishing among others. Nigeria as one of the maritime nations had its share of these security challenges which include piracy, kidnapping, illegal bunkering and others.
This therefore necessitated the Eastern Naval Command to carry out Exercise Ani-Oforifori, meaning ‘Chase Thief’ in Kalabari Language.
According to the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral David Adeniran, the conduct of the Exercise was in furtherance to Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas mission to develop a naval force that is well trained, organised and highly motivated to discharge its constitutional roles professionally and efficiently for the defence of Nigeria in ensuring her economic prosperity.
The Exercise objective was to assess the operational readiness of ships, gunboats, helicopters and other platforms of the Eastern Fleet in order to practice skills of personnel in tackling maritime threats within the Command’s Area of responsibility.
Exercise Ani-Oforifori gave the Command the opportunity to ascertain the operational readiness of the Eastern Fleet.
The Exercise was born out of an earlier simulation conducted at the Simulation Center of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, Kaduna State.
The simulation training exercise at the Center covers Fleet Maneuvers, Steering Gear Failure/Breakdown, Machinery Breakdown, Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) among others.
To replicate real time situation, the Eastern Naval Command Set to Sea. The conduct of Exercise Ani-Oforifori was carried out in 4 phases; phase one was the preparatory phase which involved training in various aspects of Seamanship as well as Logistics provision for participating ships.
Phase 2 was the movement phase to designated Exercise area which dove tail into conduct of the Exercise.
The final stage was the termination stage which ended with entry of all participating ships into harbour, followed by wash-up and debrief.
The Exercise gave the Command the opportunity to practice man overboard, semaphore/flashing, Gunnery, Interrogation of vessels, Abandoned ship, Boat Operation among others.
During boat Exercise, life buoys were deployed for rescue of simulated Man Overboard while NNS Centinary and NNS Burutu were contacted for lookout. Finally, the entire scenario was professionally handled – leaving Ship Company with great lesson.
Another training conducted was in the area of Abandoned Ship where life raft was deployed for Ship Company. To many onboard, it was the first time of witnessing the content of life raft.
The balloon-like object contained some medications/safety materials onboard. Interestingly, the ship recovered it for teaching aid to personnel.
The importance of communication was exhibited onboard as various ships while in formations communicated through Semaphore – use of flags for communication onboard.
According to the Command Operations Officer, Commodore AO Bamidele, Semaphores were the earliest form of communication adopted by ships.
He however stressed that where all forms of communication failed onboard, the last option is to adopt semaphore; he further stated that sign and symbol form of communication is safer because it is secured among ships.
Therefore practicing it will give personnel opportunity to be abreast with it. In the area of gunnery exercise, participating ships conducted series of gunnery by engaging identified targets at sea.
Various calibre of weapons onboard were test fired by ship company.
The exercise reinforces marksmanship skills of personnel.
In a related development, during the Exercise, ships patrolled the entire Eastern flank of Nigeria’s maritime environment and in the process interrogated several vessels in the area.
Some of the oil fields and terminals in the area include; Yoho oil terminal, Ima oil terminal, Okono oil terminal, Oso Gas field, Usari oil field, Terminal Ebok and Antan.
Others are, Qua Iboe terminal, Kwa Ibo and a host of others.
The Eastern Naval Command sea Exercise Ani-Oforifori 2018 was concluded with a debrief onboard Nigerian Navy Ship Okpabana.
Some of the security/law enforcement maritime agencies that participated in the exercise include representatives of the Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp, Nigerian Customs, Nigerian Immigration and Nigeria Maritime and Administration and Safety Agency.
It should be noted that, the Exercise was also conducted simultaneously by Operations units under the Eastern Naval Command in pursuant to same objective to rid the creeks of all forms of criminality.
These units include Nigerian Navy ship Jubilee, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinfer And Nigerian Navy Ship Victory as well as Forward Operations bases BONNY in Rivers and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom States respectively.
Commander Thomas Otuji