The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor on Monday, 25 October 2021 launched four Semi Ballistic Gunboats constructed for the Defence Headquarters by the Naval Shipyard Limited in Port Harcourt.
According to the Chief of Defence Staff who was also the Special Guest of Honour for the occasion, the decision to provide armoured gunboats for maritime operations was informed by the need to provide added protection to troops in the discharge of the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s responsibility of ensuring safety and security of the nation’s maritime environment.
Speaking further, the CDS reiterated the confidence emplaced on the Naval Shipyard Limited by awarding the contract to construct the boats saying, “From all indications and from what we are seeing here today, the decision has proven to be a wise one. I must also state quickly that the decision was borne out of the need to support the shipbuilding capability of our Armed Forces in order to improve local capacity and expertise for the production of our defence needs”.
“We took this decision to wean our country from over-reliance on foreign military technology; strengthen our local technological base and conserve foreign currency. I want to see a Nigerian armed force capable of maintaining itself to a reasonable extent in terms of military materiel for land, sea and even air operations,”
General Irabor further commended the Nigerian Navy and the Naval Shipyard Limited for achieving this feat despite the interruption of industrial, commercial and economic activities that emanated due to the outbreak of the COVID -19 pandemic.
He stated that this achievement would be a boost to enhancing military presence within the waterways in order to mitigate maritime security challenges in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The General enjoined the end users of the ballistic gunboats to imbibe the culture of maintenance to ensure their longevity.
In his remarks, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo stated that the construction of the Semi Ballistic Gunboats is yet another milestone achievement by the Naval Shipyard Limited in the provision of necessary support to the on-going effort at combating threats to the nation’s maritime interest.
He said the NSL had the manpower and expertise to build ships, boats, barges and barges, among others noting that the NSL, like the Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos, has also rendered support services in the repairs and maintenance of the platforms of the national fleet.
Admiral Gambo said the protection of Nigeria’s maritime environment remains a key mandate of the Nigerian Navy hence the need for developing requisite capacity for ship building as well as provision of necessary logistics support for the sustenance of the fleet.
Therefore, the construction of the platforms and their subsequent induction into the maritime assets of the Operation Delta Safe would bolster the operational capacity of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta area.
The CNS expressed delight on the project and appreciated the Chief of Defence Staff for the patronage as well as trust and belief in the capability of the Naval Shipyard Limited to build the boats for the Defence Headquarters.
He said the achievement has contributed immensely to the development of expertise of the Naval Shipyard Limited and expectedly a cost saving option considering other competing demand for scarce resources.
According to him, the endeavour also aligns with the Federal Governments agenda of encouraging local content towards developing indigenous capacity and reducing dependency on external vendors.
The Admiral reaffirmed that the Nigerian Navy will not relent in its effort at developing the capacity of the Naval Shipyard Limited stating that the Navy is exploiting partnership with the Presidential Implementation Committee on Technology Transfer to further develop the infrastructure and human capacity of the Yard towards national socio-economic development.
He added that the navy will soon take delivery of a 43-meter Seaward Defence Boat III built by the Lagos shipyard.
The event was graced by very senior officers from the Defence Headquarters and the Services.