The Nigerian Navy has taken delivery of 20 patrol boats that will be deployed on maritime security and counter-terrorism operations in Delta State south of the country. The consignment included 16 locally refurbished Epenal boats and four Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RIBS) of undefined make that were imported from South Africa.
The boats were commissioned into service in Delta State on 11 November by General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff. The boats will be used to boost the naval patrols in waterways around Warri in the south of the country. General Olonisakin said the security services remained committed to the provision of adequate security along the country’s waterways to protect the economy.
Naval Information Acting Director Captain Suleiman Dahun said the induction of the boats was part of the key priorities set in the Strategic Directives of 2017. “The newly acquired patrol boats will be deployed to boost the Nigerian Navy’s ongoing operations in tackling the major maritime crimes that include crude oil theft, illegal refining of crude oil, maritime terrorism as well as people and arms trafficking,” he said.
To complement the navy, the government recently approved a budget for the acquisition of maritime security assets that include a command and control centre, special mission aircraft, special mission patrol vessels and special mission helicopters for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
In August the Nigerian Navy took delivery of 30 8.2 metre long boats built by Epenal in Port Harcourt. Another 30 had been delivered to the Navy in February this year. Navy Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas said “These boats, no doubt, have boosted navy maritime operations.” The Navy also received nine vessels from Sri Lanka. Of the 39 boats received in August, Ibas said they “would be greatly helpful for patrol of territorial waters and the contiguous zone.”
Referring to the Epenal boats, Ibas said “The cost of production of a unit of the boat is less than half the cost of producing similar boats from overseas. These boats retained all positive features of the previous set including being fitted with appropriate weapons for credible firepower.”