By John Ikani
As part of efforts geared towards combating Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian Navy has deployed 13 warships, two helicopters and 1,500 troops in a special military operation dubbed Exercise Grand African NEMO 2021.
Announcing the deployment in Onne, Rivers, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Awwal Gambo said three foreign navies would also participate in the six-day exercise.
The CNS who was represented by Obi Egbuchulam, the Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command, said the six-day exercise also sought to contain spates of attacks by oil thieves on critical Oil and Gas installations, as well as other criminalities in Nigeria’s territorial waters.
What the CNS said:
“Exercise Grand African NEMO 2021 is an initiative of the French Navy in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and allied partners, to improve maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The exercise involves a multifaceted deployment at sea and ashore of naval assets drawn from the three operations commands of the Nigerian Navy.
“The exercise aims at ensuring the freedom of navigation in the nation’s maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea by strengthening coordination in the fight against maritime insecurity.
“To this end, the exercise will involve a total of 13 ships, about 1,500 personnel, two helicopters and three foreign naval ships, including the French Navy and the Royal Navy.
“The Nigerian Navy Maritime Awareness Domain facilities and elements of Special Boat Service (navy special forces) will also participate in the exercise.
“The exercise will also cover anti-piracy, protection of oil facilities as well as conducting search-and-rescue operations, among others.”
The Navy Chief went on to note that the nation’s economic zone had witnessed recent threats by criminal gangs, hence current re-strategising by the navy to deny criminals freedom of action.
According to him, the morale of troops had been boosted with the recent signing of the Anti-Piracy Law.
He added that the special military exercise will be used to consolidate on the gains of Exercise Beni Kekere’, conducted three months ago, and the ongoing Operation Calm Waters II’.
What you should know:
West Africa loses about 800,000 tons of fish a year, worth almost $2 billion in gross revenue, to illegal activities by both foreign and domestic vessels, Pierangelo said. This removes vast seafood protein from the region.
Nigerian waters are at the center of the Gulf of Guinea, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola that’s the most dangerous part of the world for sailors, accounting for almost all kidnappings at sea in recent years.
The Covid-19 outbreak and restrictions led to a surge in piracy levels, though that slowed this year and is expected to ease further as economies pick up.