Navy deploys troops to tackle piracy and oil theft

David Adekunle, Lagos

Nigerian Navy troops

The Nigerian Navy has deployed four warships and 3,400 troops to tackle piracy, oil theft and vandalism of critical oil and gas installations at the nation’s maritime environment.

The Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral James Oluwole announced the deployment codenamed ‘Exercise Sharkbite,’ in Onne, Rivers State.

The warships deployed for the exercise were the Nigerian Navy Ship Okpabana, NNS Ologbo, NNS Burutu, NNS Sagbama and a naval Augusta helicopter.

Rear Admiral Oluwole said that the two-day exercise would also serve as avenue to check combat readiness of troops to tackle militant attacks on oil and gas installations which plunged the nation into recession.

According to him, “the exercise is an annual event for the employment of naval resources in training for maritime operations, either exploring the effects of warfare or testing strategies without actual combat.’’

Capacity enhancement
“The exercise will enhance the capacity of the command in the fight against piracy, sea robbery, hijacking, illegal bunkering and crude oil theft, among other maritime crimes.

 “The participating fleets will conduct naval evolutions, patrols, visit, boarding, search and seizure, opposed boarding of a hijacked vessel, maritime interception, blockade of some river entrances and target practice, among others,” he explained.

The exercise covers 24,000 nautical miles between Rivers and Cross Rivers States coastal areas and will boost socioeconomic activities at the maritime domain.

“The exercise will not interfere with legitimate activities of oil companies and seafarers; movement of commuters and other economic activities at sea and creeks in the region…It follows a recent operation, Operation Tsare Teku III, launched by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas which sought to prevent attacks on merchant ships,’’ Rear Admiral Oluwole said.

Securing critical sector
“The Nigerian Navy must be in the best position to secure critical oil and gas infrastructure both ashore and offshore for socioeconomic activities to thrive in our maritime domain,’’ he added.

The personnel participating in the exercise comprised 3,000 ratings and 400 officers.

Mercy Chukwudiebere