Friday, November 4

Navy deploys 4 warships, 3,400 troops in N’Delta

Navy deploys 4 warships, 3,400 troops in N’Delta

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

The Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. James Oluwole, announced the deployment, codenamed “Exercise Sharkbite” yesterday in Onne, Rivers.

According to Oluwole, the warships deployed for the exercise were the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana, NNS Ologbo, NNS Burutu, NNS Sagbama, and a naval Augusta helicopter, while the 3,400 personnel comprised 3,000 ratings and 400 officers. Oluwole noted 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.

He disclosed that the exercise covers 24,000 nautical miles between Rivers and Cross River states coastal areas, and that it would boost socioeconomic activities at the nation’s maritime domain.

He said: “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. “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.

“This exercise was informed by worsening vandalism of critical oil and gas infrastructure by militants, which has plunged the nation into recession.

Navy deploys 4 warships, 3,400 troops in N’Delta


“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 said. He added that the Nigerian Navy must be in the best position to secure critical oil and gas infrastructure, both ashore and offshore, for socio-economic activities to thrive in our maritime domain.

He said the exercise would not interfere with legitimate activities of oil companies and seafarers; movement of commuters and other economic activities at sea and creeks in the region. According to him, the exercise follows a recent operation, Operation Tsare Teku III, launched by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ete-Ibas, which sought to prevent attacks on merchant ships.

“The Nigerian Navy must be in the best position to secure critical oil and gas infrastructure both ashore and offshore for socio-economic activities to thrive in our maritime domain.

“The 3,400 personnel participating in this exercise comprised 3,000 ratings and 400 officers,” he said. Several militant groups have sustained attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta since the beginning of this year. Just on Wednesday, some militants blew up the Bantan Flow Station run by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in Delta State, a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Consequently, Nigeria has lost huge revenues owing to the sustained attacks on oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta. The ruptured pipelines are those conveying crude oil to the export terminals and refineries, while the others supplied gas to the thermal power stations for the generation of electricity in the country. The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has claimed responsibility for the destruction of the oil pipelines.

The NDA first came under the spotlight in February, when it claimed responsibility for an attack on an underwater pipeline owned by the Royal Dutch Shell. The NDA has since attacked similar facilities owned by Chevron and Agip while the group has threatened to continue the onslaught until the Federal Government meets its demands.

As part of efforts to address the crisis in the Niger Delta, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday in Abuja, met with leaders and stakeholders from the oil-rich region.

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