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Nigernian Navy History Phase II: 1971 1988

  • May 74 Navy Week Celebrated for the first Time
  • May 75 Navy Week Celebrated with Sports
  • 1976 NNS ENYIMIRI and NNS ERINOMI delivered to NN (MK 9 Corvettes).
  • 1978 NNS AMBE and OFION (LSTs) delivered to NN
  • 10 Jul 81 NNS BECROFT (the first Nigerian Naval Base) renamed NNS OLOKUN. The “bee” symbol on the logo changed to “mermaid”
  • 1981 NN Barracks (Navy Town) Ojo commissioned
  • 25 Sep 81 NNC ONURA commissioned for the training of naval cadets alongside NDA
  • 02 Jul 82 12 Pioneer students of Naval Faculty, Course, Command and Staff College, Jaji graduated
  • 1982 NNS ARADU and the Fast Attack Crafts (NNS AGU, DAMISA, EKPE, AYAM, EKUN and SIRI) delivered to NN
  • 22 Feb 83 Commandant, US Coast Guard addressed a 2-day NN Workshop on “Smuggling and Coastal Piracy in Nigeria”
  • 11 Jun 83 First Regular Course Cadets of NNC ONURA passed out.
  • 19 Dec 84 First Batch of Mechanicians (54 in number) trained locally at NN Technical School in Port Harcourt passed out.
  • 01 Feb 85 NNS QUORRA commissioned as a comprehensive professional school
  • 31 Mar – 09 Apr 85 Operation SEADOG (Joint training exercise in which 10 naval ships participated)
  • 29 Apr – 05 May 85 First International Naval Equipment Exhibition held at NNS QUORRA
  • 01 May 86 Naval Air Station (NAS) Ojo commissioned
  • 09 May 86 NNS OMALOKUN Warri (now NN DELTA) commissioned
  • 1986 Mine Counter Measure Vessel (NNS BARAMA and OHUE) delivered to the NN
  • 30 Jan 87 NNS OKEMINI (now NNS PATHFINDER), Port Harcourt commissioned
  • 25 Feb 87 Sea Exercise DANKE (Joint maneuver between NN Western Fleet and German Navy Ships on visit to Nigeria in Feb 87)
  • 06 Mar 87 Sea Exercise ODABO (Joint Maneuver between NN western and Brazilian Task Group consisting of 2 frigates and a Submarine which visited Nigeria in Mar 87)
  • 4 May 87 HQ ENC relocated from Naval Base Calabar to essien Town thereby breaking the mix of co-locating Command Hqs in the main bases
  • 21 Mar 87 Evolution of NN Trident Maritime Strategy
  • 12 Aug 87 Presidential Review NN Fleet by the President and Commander in Chief Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (then Maj Gen)
  • 11 Aug 88 Seventh and last batch of cadets passed out from NNC ONURA

The period between 1971 to 1988 is the post civil war era. It witnessed more of diplomatic and policing roles of the navy. In the first part of this period, NNS OTOBO and NNS DORINA were acquired in 1974. The diplomatic function of flag showing cruise took NNS NIGERIA now (OBUMA) from Nigeria to Cot d'Ivoire through Senegal covering almost all the countries in West African coast. Subsequently, NNS DORINA (Mk 3 ship) and NNS RUWAN YARO (a training ship) undertook a training cruise on 17 May 1977, to parts of West Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. The significance of this tour was that it gave opportunities to officers and men of the Navy for proper training, flag showing to those countries visited and most importantly sea faring experience. The cadets on training also had the opportunity to practice the classroom instructions thereby upgrading their operational knowledge, for better efficiency.

The foreign cruise of the Nigerian Navy ships was made possible because the ships were relatively new and there was a stockpile of spare parts and trained engineers onboard. The repair concept was "repair by replacement". Also technical manpower was available since the naval personnel trained in Dartmouth (UK) under the Royal Navy supervision. All the ships were refitted abroad during this period. The over-all effect of training in the Royal Navy and acquisition of spare parts from the British was that the local technological base could not befully established until 1969, when the Nigerian Naval Dockyard (NND) was acquired but not equipped.

The civil war could have been another opportunity for local fabrication of spare part but the vacuum created by the absence of the British at the beginning of the war was later filled by the Russians who were at the center of planning the execution of technological activities during the war. The Russians did not only sell their ships to the Nigerian Navy but accompanied the ships to Nigeria for purpose of maintenance. However, the 3 Russians Ships namely: NNS EKPEN, NNS EKUN, and NNS ELEOLE that performed creditably during the war could not be maintained thereafter owing to lack of spares from Russia and were subsequently phased out.

The end of the civil war coincided with the increase in revenue accruing to the FGN from the sales of crude oil. At this period also, the country started playing leading roles in African affairs. Africa became the central focus of Nigerian foreign policy. It then became inevitable for Nigeria to consider ships that will have enough capability to show credible deterrence in Africa in general and West Africa sub region in particular. Consequently Nigerian Navy acquired technologically sophisticated ships like NNS ARADU (MEKO 360), NNS ERINOMI and ENYIMIRI (Mk 9 Corvetts), NNS OHUE and BARAMA (MCMV), NNS AMBE and OFIOM (LST), NNS SIRI, AYAM and EKUN (FAC M), NNS AGU, DAMISA and EKPE (FAC M), were acquired from Germany, UK and France. The ships were equipped with diverse weapons and Fire Control Systems (FCS) which included missiles, underwater system, propulsion control systems, and mine-counter measure systems among others.

This period was also characterized by ship refits abroad, manufactures' technical training of Nigerian Navy personnel, support by Messrs Dornier and MTU Main Engines (MEs) representative as well as implementation of PMS onboard ships. Out of 25 ships acquired during the period, 23 were new. Evidence of ship availability manifested in thesuccessful flag showing visits of Nigerian Navy ships to West Africa, Central Africa,South America and participation of Nigerian Navy ship in Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon. Most Nigerian Navy ships participated in operation SEADOG, the first joint exercise of the Nigerian Armed Forces conducted in 1985.

Also among the major naval operation conducted was the "Offshore Task Force" created by the Nigerian Navy in 1984 effectively controlled illegal bunkering, piracy and smuggling during this period; and in 1987 alone, more than fifty fishing trawlers were arrested. These activities demonstrated the availability of Nigerian Navy ships at that time. The Naval Air Station was commissioned in 1986 with 2 Lynx Helicopters. This is to increase the Over the Horizon Target (OHT), range of the ships and at the same time detect the presence of submarine.

By the end of 1987, ships were becoming unavailable for naval operations because of their frequent breakdown and the inability to correct defects on time. The international price of crude oil that reduced drastically in 1987 made the FGN declare Structured Adjustment Program (SAP). The effect of SAP manifested seriously in the scarcity of foreign exchange. Ships could no longer sail for refit and training abroad. This situation compelled FGN to look inward for localization of both repairs andtechnical training. Naval acquisitions at this period were the highest in the history of the Nigerian Navy till date. These acquisitions were targeted at addressing the inadequacy of the civil war era.

The naval operation at this time was anti-smuggling patrols and peace Support Operations. Diplomatic roles were also carried out successfully because the ships were new. The technological environment in terms of spares fabrication, manpower training and industrial base were not there to support the acquisitions hence the ship's performance declined towards the end of this era. By 1990, Naval Dockyard was equipped and partially commissioned as the fulcrum of Nigerian Navy technological center.

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