Naval Chief Flags Off Combined Maritime Security Exercises

The Chief of the Naval Staff of the Nigerian Navy, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla has flagged off combined exercises, the  “Crocodile Lift” and “Grand African Nemo” 2023 Exercises for effective maritime security.

The Exercises Crocodile Lift and Grand African Nemo 2023 are collaborative initiatives between the French Navy and the Nigerian Navy, aimed at bolstering maritime security efforts in the Gulf of Guinea. The decision to merge these exercises was driven by the overlapping timelines of both events and the need for a multifaceted approach to maritime security.

In his speech during the official flagoff on board the Nigerian Navy Ship KADA on October 9, 2023, Vice Admiral Ogalla highlighted the significant security challenges facing the GoG region, emphasizing that many of these threats directly target Nigeria’s economic lifeline.

He pointed out that the criminal activities, including crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering, pose a grave risk to national well-being stressing the importance of national and international collaboration to mitigate these threats effectively.

The Chief of the Naval Staff commended Exercises Crocodile Lift and Grand African Nemo as well-thought-out international exercises involving the Nigerian Navy. Expressing optimism, he stated that these exercises would add impetus to his vision of creating a “highly motivated professional naval force capable of shaping the security outcomes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the littorals.”

Ogalla reiterated the Nigerian Navy’s commitment to the objectives of the Yaoundé protocol, emphasizing its role in ensuring maritime security in the GoG region.

In his words: “Undeniably, Exercises CROCODILE LIFT AND GRAND AFRICAN NEMO which have both become annual events, are some of the well thought out international exercises involving the Nigerian Navy. 

It is gratifying to note that these exercises have further enhanced effective collaboration against maritime insecurity such as Crude Oil Theft, illegal oil bunkering, piracy, sea robbery, hostage taking as well as Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.

“Overall, I am optimistic that these Exercises will add impetus to my vision to have ‘highly motivated professional naval force capable of shaping the security outcomesa  within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the littorals including land-based engagements in fulfillment of Nigeria’s national interest’. Additionally, the Exercises will furfulfilmenttrate Nigerian Navy’s commitment to the objectives of the Yaoundé protocol in ensuring mthe aritime security in the GoG” Ogalla noted.

Also speaking, The French Defence Attaché to Nigeria, Col. Laurent Favier acknowledged the collaborative efforts, highlighting the value of the cooperation that has developed between France and Nigeria, particularly within the Nigerian Navy’s maritime security efforts. He also praised Nigeria’s leadership in the Yaoundé architecture, a regional initiative that promotes maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

The French Defence Attaché underscored the tangible signs of cooperation, including the presence of the French Landing Helicopter Dock Mistral in Lagos as part of the CORYMBE mission, signifying the growing confidence between the two Navies.

“With the aim of supporting the development of the Blue economy among the CoastTo supportvy has been engaged for many years in this fight against piracy, illegal fishing, and various forms of criminality at sea, achieving outstanding results in 2022, with a significant decrease in incidents.

“On a more global scale, Nigeria has also played a leading role in the development of the Yaoundé architecture, which celebrates this year its Tenth anniversary, especially by implementing the YARIS CIS system to allow better sharing of information on maritime activity in the Gulf of Guinea. The presence in Lagos of our Landing Helicopter Dock Mistral in the framework of the CORYMBE mission and of the European Union’s coordinated maritime presence appears today as a tangible sign of the confidence that is now established between our two Navies.” Colonel Favier noted.

On his part, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi highlighted the importance of these exercises in creating a safe and secure maritime environment, preventing piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, and other forms of criminal activities within the Western Naval Command’s area of responsibility which according to him aligns with the Chief of the Naval Staff’s vision for harnessing Nigeria’s maritime environment for economic growth.

Abdullahi emphasized the collaborative nature of this year’s exercise, involving multiple Maritime Operation Zones of the Yaoundé architecture. He informed that the Nigerian Navy will deploy seven ships, one Special Boat Service unit, two helicopters, and four Maritime Operation Centers to ensure the success of Exercise Grand African Nemo 2023.

The Western Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding assured the public of the Western Naval Command’s commitment to providing a conducive maritime environment for legitimate businesses. He stressed the importance of collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders and other regional Navies to address maritime challenges effectively.

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