From Ben Dunno, Warri
Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, yesterday launched ‘Operation Eagle Eye’, a new strategy to combat militants and other criminal elements in the Niger Delta region.
Operation Eagle Eye, a new exercise incorporated into the Chief of Naval Staff annual sea inspection, involved the deployment of nine capital ships, over 80 gunboats and 11 inshore patrol cars and five Navy helicopters, to cover Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. The exercise would last for five days.
Performing the flag off of the first phase in Warri, Ibas said the operation will be conducted within the Eastern and Central commands area of responsibilities covering a coastline of 220 nautical mile extending seaward up to 80 nautical mile and sea area of 39,000 square nautical miles of the nation’s territorial waters.
The CNS, who was represented by Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Adebayo Oshinowo, said the Nigerian Navy had to introduce new operation concept to address the emerging challenges in the nation’s waterways and off-shore arising from proliferation of militant groups and criminal elements engaging in illicit activities, including piracy and attacks on ships in the waterways.
“With the challenges, the Navy felt the need to continue to exercise own personnel, the ships as well as operational readiness to tackle emerging situations.”
Vice Admiral Ibas also stated that the Navy is monitoring the capacity and capability of the militant’s expertise in diving deep into the sea to bust pipelines, assuring that his personnel were working to tackle that also.
He promised that Exercise Eagle Eye would not truncate the ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and the Niger Delta stakeholders, noting that it was meant not only to train own personnel but also tackle criminals taking advantage of the process to attack seafaring communities and national assets.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, who was appointed as the Tactical Commanding Officer and Commander of Task Group 16.3 in the conduct of the exercise, said Operation Eagle Eye was CNS strategic directive for achieving a safe maritime environment.
“The exercise Eagle Eye is predicated on the Chief of Naval Staff strategic directive for achieving a safe maritime environment that will ensure promoting shipping activities as well as increase crude oil production and other economic activities,” he noted.