The Defence Headquarters said it has taken delivery of the second batch of ballistic gunboats built locally by Nigeria’s Naval Shipyard Limited (NSL).
Gen. Lucky Iraboh, the Chief of Defence Staff, inaugurated the five units of 9.22m Semi-Ballistic GRP Gunboats at the Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Represented by Rear Adm. Vincent Okeke, Director of Logistics, Defence Headquarters, Iraboh said the gunboats were the second batch delivered since the country started production in 2021.
According to him, the production of the gunboats was part of moves by the Federal Government to develop a robust Military Industry Complex capable of meeting the defence needs of the country.
“We have always known that there is a need for the country to look inwards to build local capacities and encourage sustainability of our local industries.
“So, when the need to provide ballistic gunboats for our troops arose, the Defence Headquarters awarded the construction of the boats to NSL.
“The successes recorded with the first set of ballistic gunboats informed our decision to award these additional five gunboats to the shipyard,” he said.
Iraboh said that NSL had in October 2021 delivered the country’s first batch of four ballistic gunboats, saving Nigeria millions in foreign currency.
He said the locally produced gunboats were better designed and durable compared to most ballistic gunboats produced abroad.
The defence chief said ship building was an economic changer that has been leveraged by countries like the United Kingdom, South Korea and Singapore, to evolve their economies.
“So, we are happy that our confidence in the capacity of the NSL has been justified with the delivery of this second batch of gunboats.
“It is a legitimate ambition for Nigeria to become a major player in the global ship building industry, especially when the industry has the Armed Forces as key stakeholder.
“Achieving this will help to wean our country from over-dependence on foreign military technology, boost our local technology base and conserve foreign exchange,” he added.
Iraboh said the gunboats would immediately be deployed alongside troops in the various theatres of operations in the Niger Delta and the country at large.
He said the re-armament of the military, especially the navy, resulted in the current improvement of security in the nation’s waterways and the Gulf of Guinea.
“The improved security in the maritime environment prompted the International Maritime Bureau on March 3 to delist Nigeria from countries affected by sea pirates,” he said.
On his part, Rear Adm. Sunday Oyegada, the Admiral Superintendent of NSL said the navy decided to produce gunboats due to poor durability of some of its gunboats acquired abroad.
He said upon the realisation to produce locally, the navy came up with a design of 9.22m by 3.2 semi-ballistic glass reinforced plastic gunboats, to suit local military needs.
“So, our gunboats are the largest, stable and most versatile of any gunboats we have operating in our waterways.
“The gunboats are suitable for patrol, law enforcement, search and rescue operations, among others, and designed mostly for backwater operations.
“The gunboat’s hull is sufficiently reinforced; antenna stability makes it capable to operate far out at sea and can withstand up to sea stage two.
“It is equipped with state-of-the-art navigational and communication equipment; weighs 3.5 tonnes that can handle payloads of one ton, and powered by twin 250HP outboard engines,” he added. (NAN)