Ben Dunno, Warri
The Central Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy has intensified its ongoing war against illegal bunkering activities along the coastal region with the deployment of additional surveillance aircraft, gadgets and weapons to curb the menace.
The latest addition to the naval fleets in the region includes a helicopter, four ships, and two riverine patrol gunboats to boost the operational efficiency of men and officers both in aerial and land surveillance along the waterways.
Speaking at the 3rd Quarter Sea Exercise held at the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) jetty in Warri, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, noted that the essence of the additional fleet was to consolidate on the efforts so far achieved.
He noted that the flag-off of the 3rd Quarter Sea Exercise, code-named ‘Doufiyayai Kekere’, which literary means ‘Sea Protection’, would not only enhance the professional competence of men and officers during surveillance but help in taking the battle to the criminals in their hideouts.
The naval boss stated that the exercise which was in line with the directive of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, was specifically designed to end crude oil theft and other activities at sea capable of sabotaging the nation’s economy.”
While stating that the exercise, which would last for three days would ensure Nigerian Navy’s continuous dominance of the maritime environment, the FOC reaffirmed the Navy’s commitment to combating illegal activities in the maritime domain.
According to him, “the deployment of additional fleets would enhance patrol and operations against crude oil theft, piracy, and destruction of illegal refineries within the Nigerian Navy area of responsibility.”
Rear Admiral Garba stated that “we conduct this exercise every quarter in order to try to dominate the sea environment and to ensure that all criminal activities are done without immediately.
“What we intend to do this time around is to go out and practise our vessels in anti-poaching activities, illegal and in unregulated fishing as well as to go after vessels that refuse to switch on their automatic identification systems.
“Now, the purpose of this flag off is to ensure that the ships both in Warri area and Port Harcourt cast off to sea and conduct this exercise. As I am talking to you now, we have vessels that are also leaving Port Harcourt to sea,”and carry us in the sea.”
Earlier, in his opening remark, the Fleet Commander, Central, Commodore Sunday Oguntade, said the three-day exercise included practising the vessels, among other activities, to combat maritime crimes.
“The ships will conduct gunnery practices, visual communications exercises, fleet manoeuvres among others,” he stated.