BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
The Chief of the Naval Staff, CNS, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, says the Nigerian Navy has intensified efforts against sea piracy, illegal oil bunkering, trafficking in persons and narcotics within the nation’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
Vice Admiral Gambo who made this known while flagging off Exercise Grand African Memo 2021, at Federal Ocean Terminal Onne Rivers State, explained that the exercise would be carried out in collaboration with International Navy and Allied Forces. \
The exercise which is an initiative of the French Navy in collaboration with Nigerian Navy and allied forces will feature 13 Nigerian Navy Ships, three Foreign Naval ships and two Helicopters.
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo who performed the flag off of the exercise at Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne Rivers State, expressed optimism that the operation which involves intensified patrol of the covering areas, would improve maritime security.
Vice Admiral Gambo who was represented by the Flag Officer commanding Central Naval Command, Real Admiral Obi Egbuchulam, described maritime crimes as Trans -national in nature, hence, the need to collaborate with International Navy.
He noted that last year, sea pirates that operated in Ivorian waters were arrested within Nigeria in an incident that involved a Chinese vessel.
“So it is very important considering the multinational nature of Maritime crimes for exercises such as Exercise Grand African Memo, which serves as viable platforms for multi National and Multi Agency collaboration in the fight against maritime crimes in ensuring the security of the maritime environment.”
The Chief of the Naval Staff, who gave assurance that the exercise would consolidate on the gains of previous operations aimed at improved maritime security, added that it would equally strengthen the relationship between Nigerian Navy and the allied Forces.
“It will enhance the policing of our exclusive economic zone, as well as demonstrate Nigerian Navy’s credibility and capacity to secure the nation’s water ways and the Gulf of Guinea.”
“The Nigerian Navy in collaboration with the French Navy and other allied Navies seek to consolidate on the gains of Exercise Beni Tekere and ongoing Operation Grand Waters.”
Earlier in an address, the Fleet Officer Commanding Central Fleet, Commodore Olusanya Bankole revealed that participating ships of Nigerian Navy would be drawn from three Naval Commands across the Country.
“The Exercise will expand patrol spanning the Operational Commands of the Nigerian Navy from Lagos, Onne, Warri, Bonny, Brass, covering the Central, Western Naval Commands.”
Commodore Bankole stated that officers deployed to participate in the exercise would engage in air land and sea operations for maximum results.
About one thousand five hundred Naval Officers will be taking part in the exercise.
Present at the event were senior Naval Officers, heads of other collaborating security operatives in Rivers State, including the General Officer Commanding Six Division Nigerian Army PORT Harcourt, Major General Sani Mohammed.