March 11 (THEWILL) – The Nigerian Navy on Friday deployed 10 warships and two helicopters in a joint multinational maritime exercise including 31 other foreign navies.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo inaugurated the exercise titled: “Obangame Express 2022” in Onne, Rivers Eleme Local Government Area.
Gambo said the exercise was aimed at improving security in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and enhancing synergy with navies from the regional bloc and allied nations.
According to him, the Nigerian Navy will conduct the exercise on Nigeria’s territorial waterways and the Gulf between March 11 and end on March 18.
“Exercise Obangame Express is an annual multinational maritime exercise, born out of the need for GoG navies and coastguards to cooperate for regional maritime security.
“The Nigerian Navy will deploy 10 ships, two helicopters; maritime domain awareness assets as well as elements of the Special Boat Services (Nigeria’s naval special forces) in this year’s exercise.
“The exercise will positively impact our combat operation through training, while exposing other maritime agencies to the benefits of inter-agency cooperation and international collaboration,” he said.
He listed some of the countries that would participate in the exercise, including Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Canada, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and Denmark.
The others are: Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe and Senegal.
Also participating are: Sierra Leone, Togo, the United States of America, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). ).
“This year’s exercise is particularly instructive, given the efforts of our governments to make the African Continental Free Trade Agreement work, which has an intra-African trade potential of 33%.
“Thus, Obangeme presents an opportunity for the Nigerian Navy to work with other regional and friendly navies, to safeguard and secure the GoG, to boost trade and maritime commerce,” he added.
Gambo said a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), released on March 3, indicated that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries prone to piracy.
The Navy chief said another report published by IMB and Defense Web in 2021 announced a significant reduction in piracy and armed attacks in the GoG.
“These achievements are attributed to the sustained presence of Nigerian Navy vessels at sea as well as the increased regional synergy and maritime domain awareness facilitated by exercises, such as Obangame.
“The Nigerian Navy under my leadership remains committed to stamping out criminal acts in the nation’s maritime domain and the GoG for legitimate socio-economic activities to flourish,” he said.
Furthermore, Rear Admiral Idi Abbas, Flag Commanding Officer (FOC), Naval Central Command Headquarters, Yenagoa, Bayelsa, said the command will coordinate the exercise on behalf of the Nigerian Navy.
The exercise, Abbas said, would also be used to defeat the activities of sea pirates, sea robbers, oil thieves, illegal bunkers and other forms of criminality in national waters.
According to him, representatives from the Police, Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Against Drugs (NDLEA), would participate in the exercise.
The others are: the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) and the Ministry of Justice.