History was made Monday in far away Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates, UAE as the construction of a Landing Warship Tank LST 100 for the Nigerian Navy, NN commenced, as part of move to actualizing the dream of restoring its sealift capability to ensure security of the nation's maritime environment and beyond.
The construction of the warship, is coming more than a decade after the Service decommissioned two similar LSTs.
Speaking at the occasion of the Keel laying ceremony held at Messrs DAMEN Shipyards, Sharjah, to kick start the ship's construction, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, stated that the occasion would also provide an opportunity for closer interaction with management of DAMEN, regarding the Nigerian Navy's expectation from the procurement.
He recalled that the Nigerian Government acquired two Type 502 amphibious vessels : NNS AMBE and NNS OFIOM, built by HDW German builders in 1978. These vessels according to him, served the Navy meritoriously in the 1980s-90s, "as they played significant roles during the ECOMOG intervention Operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as other peace support operations in Lebanon" The NN's acquisition of this latest LST 100, he said, would go a long way in filling the operational gap created by the decommissioning of the two NN ships.
The CNS informed that the bid for this project was highly competitive, as several other ship building companies tendered for her construction. But the selection of DAMEN Shipyards to execute the project according to him, "was based on its track record of high quality ship building capacity, engineering as well as a belief in the company's ability to adhere to the timeline for delivery of the ship.
"Two NN Tugboats: DOLPHIN RIMA and DOLPHIN MIRA, built by DAMEN Shipyards are still operational and in service on the NN Fleet. Hence, in cognizance of its pedigree and experience over the years, the NN is confident that it will not only build this Ship in line with the specifications and configuration to the highest standards, but also deliver the project on schedule. Timely delivery is not negotiable".
When completed and delivered to the Nigerian Navy , Ibas, said the LST was expected to play crucial roles in the security of Nigeria's maritime environment and beyond.
"Specifically, the ship will be engaged in the protection of maritime resources and the preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to the promotion of global maritime commerce and maritime power projection in Nigerian Maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea at large. It is therefore my fervent belief that this Shipyard will complete the construction of the LST with all the attention and due diligence that it deserves, to rekindle our historic relationship and pave way for other areas of collaboration in the future".
He therefore, appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, over what he described as " his untiring support for the rejuvenation of the NN fleet since assumption of office.