The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) THUNDER, Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessel Class of Ship, is presently on her way to Australia to participate in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) International Fleet Review (IFR) to be held in Sydney from 3-11 October 3-11
The journey, which started on August 8, following the approval of President Goodluck Jonathan, marks the first time the country's naval ship will be berth in Australian shores and Asia continent as a whole.
The Naval Director of Information (DINFO), Commodore Kabiru Aliyu, in a statement yesterday said that the International Fleet Review is a historic commemorative maritime event for the Royal Australian Navy and Australia. According to Aliyu, the Naval event will include a multi- national sea exercise and other notable events intended to showcase the cordial relationship that exist between global maritime forces.
He said t as part of the diplomatic role of the Nigerian Navy, NNS THUNDER will conduct flag showing visits enroute Australia and showcase Nigeria's naval prowess and potentials in furtherance of the nation's foreign policy objectives. He disclosed that the Nigerian Navy is the only African Navy participating in the event.
"This implies that NNS THUNDER will not only be flying Nigeria's flag at the event but also lay credence to Nigeria's leadership role in the security calculus of the African Continent and therefore reinforce her quest for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council", he said.
Aliyu recalled: "NNS THUNDER departed for Australia from Calabar on 8 August 2013 after an elaborate farewell ceremony and expected to return to Nigeria on 18 December 2013. Accordingly, she has made port calls on her outbound journey to Luanda (Angola) and Cape Town (South Africa). She departed Cape Town on Saturday 24 August 2013 for Port Louis (Mauritius), Freemantle (Australia) and Sydney (Australia)."
"On her return (inbound) trip, she is expected to make port calls in Melbourne (Australia), Albany Town(Australia), Port Des Galet (Reunion Island), Durban (South Africa), Walvis Bay (Namibia) and Pointe Noire (Congo). The ship will be deployed for a total of 133 days out of which she would spend about 98 days at sea and 35 days in various harbours for port calls and logistics resupply".
"It is noteworthy that the last time a Nigerian Navy ship participated in an international naval event/flag showing visit outside Africa was in 2007 when NNS ARADU and NNS OBULA participated in the Brazilian Navy Centenary Celebrations." The Naval spokesman noted that the voyage to Australia will afford the crew the opportunity to train and bond together as an efficient and effective fighting unit in line with the vision statement of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba which is: 'to emplace a robust and combat ready Navy that is capable of effectively combating the security challenges in Nigeria's maritime domain including the Gulf of Guinea for Nigeria's economic prosperity and national development'.
"It is pertinent to also note that the voyage presents NNS THUNDER with the unique opportunity to positively shape international perception of Nigeria, showcase the goodwill, strategic credentials and potential of our dear country as a littoral nation with seapower aspirations among the comity of nations.
"Without doubt the ship's company of NNS THUNDER will remain resolute, committed and would continue to display the highest level of professionalism and competence in the discharge of their duties during the voyage", he added.