The Nigerian Navy has in recent years commissioned several domestic designed and built ships by the Naval Dockyard in Victoria Island and Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt.
That the Nigerian Navy is now in a position to build some class of ships to protect the nations territorial waters is remarkable.
There was a time when Nigeria seemed to be in the move to becoming a sea power in military terns and maritime power in international trade. In the eighties the Nigerian Navy was the most powerful in black Africa, second only to the Egyptian Navy.
The Nigerian Navy ordered several missile armed frigates, most notably the Meko Class Frigate NNS Aradu, fast attack craft, mine-countermeasure vessels (MCMVs), and landing ships, among others. Nigeria augmented this force with several missile launching platforms such as the MK 9 Corvettes and two missile crafts armed with aspid missiles.
The Nigerian Navy also had a credible Air Arm with 13 Augusta Westland Lynx helicopters, 4 anti-submarine warfare AW101 helicopters and Agusta 108 Power helicopters. The Navy also had about 20 recce and attack helicopters.
The necessity for a floating helicopter base for the NN’s Air Arm becomes necessary.
There was no question, by the 1980’s the Nigerian Navy was easily the most powerful in the history sub-sahara Africa.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s low industrial production capacity and technological base could not provide the crucial back-up required to maintain such high technology-based weapons and associated systems. Consequently, the resulting low ship availability and equipment reliability diminishes operational efficiency in the NN.
Enter 2018 it is sad that no Nigerian warship in service carries missiles. No anti-ship missile, no anti-aircraft missiles. What is the point in spending hundred of millions or dollars acquiring warships and not protecting this investment with air defense weapons?
Against this backdrop it is prudent for Nigeria to bring back NNS Aradu, NNS Siri, NNS Ayam and NNS Ekun.
Combattante IIIB Fast Attack Craft
These are the only ships in the Nigerian navy with offensive armaments. Sadly these ships have remained moribund, sitting in the dockyard for years. This makes no sense knowing fully well the backbone of the Nigerian economy are sea based.
In 2016 Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas, says the Nigerian Navy needs 250 million dollars to refit its war ship, NNS ARADU, for maritime operations. That is cheap compared the risk of not been able to protect our economic assets. When NNS Aradu wad inducted into the Nigerian Navy in the 1980’s it was the most advanced warship in all of Africa. The capability of this ship is staggering.
Primary Armament : Ottomat MKI Anti-ship missiles.
The inertial guidance Otomat is a long-range anti-ship missile providing maritime superiority over extended sea waters against high value naval targets. This over-the-horizon ship-to-ship missile has a range of 100-180 kilometers. The capabilities of the missile design solutions provided by the Otomat continue to be highly effective in today’s warfare environment by providing a credible deterrence as well as a powerful tactical striking force. These capabilities include the missile’s long range trajectory, the power of its warhead, its turbojet propulsion system, its accurate navigation based on an INS/altimeter pack and a link upgrading system, together with its terminal active radar guidance.
The excellent capabilities of the new missile (short reaction time, Fire and Forget, INS/GPS navigation, high target selection, ECCM and anti-CIWS maneuvers, warhead lethality with no collateral damage) allow the system to operate effectively in littoral warfare environments, as well as in blue waters.
NNS ARADU is one of the three ships in the world with capabilities for simultaneous anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. The ship also has capability for electronic warfare and naval fire support.
The Navy is an important service that protects the nation’s maritime resources and needs to be given special consideration. A decade ago attacks by Niger Delta militants resulted to the drop in Nigeria’s oil production by %40. The Navy was lucky enough to contain this attacks with inshore attacks boats. Against a powerful navy with submarines and warships with stand-off missiles, such luck will fly out the window.
Nigeria has the worlds 10th largest oil reserve with 40 billion barrels. $260 million is a small price to pay. Get Nigeria’s missile armed ships refitted and brought back to service. Nigeria will be susceptible to economic blackmail unless it proves it can defend its resources.