The Nigerian Navy is to conduct a joint fleet evaluation exercise in the Niger-Delta region in pursuance to President Goodluck Jonathan’s mandate that crude oil theft, bunkering and piracy must be stamped out off the nation’s maritime.
The fleet exercise that will hold from the 11th of November to the 17th is expected to have a total of eight ships, six gun boats and three helicopters including the Army and Air force, taking part in the exercise.
Flag Officer commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, confirmed to Channels TV that “the exercise will be carried out around the bight of Bonny Island, with the main focus on Acasa, down to Escravos region, where most of these criminal activies, especially, the issue of oil theft takes place” he said.
He warned that the entire area will be combed by using board and search of all ships on Nigerian waters in the region, hunting for those that are not supposed to be there.
Lieutenant Commander Jerry Omodare, the Command Information Officer, Western Naval Command, also noted that the exercise it will also be a training opportunity for officers with the Nigerian Navy and also give a chance to evaluate the naval capability of the navy.
The naval officers lament the state of the Nigerian Navy’s technology, noting that the Nigerian waters span about 84,000 Square nautical miles which equates to a third of the Nigerian land mass with a total strength of 15,000 naval officers.