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NNS Ambe Hippo-class Type 502 class LST

The Type 502 class LSTs Ambe and Ofion were designed by HDW as a private-venture for sale to the West German navy, which was not interested. The warship displaces 1,750 tons fully loaded and has a length of 87m and a beam of 14m. The ship is powered by two diesel engines each driving twin shafts and can maintain a speed of 17 knots. She would normally carry a crew of 59. Armament is light, consisting of several anti aircraft guns and two 20mm machine guns. They are of ro-ro design, with a lowerable stern loading ramp and articulated bow ramp. The machinery is unusual in that each engine drives multiple shafts instead of the normal other way around.

Typical load configuration options

  • 5 T-54/55 tanks + x4 trucks or artillery pieces + x35 fully-equipped marines
  • 10 BTR-60 APCs + x66 fully-equipped marines
  • 540 fully-equipped marines

Both ships suffered minor fires during the 1980s which were repaired, but maintenance on the bow ramp machinery was poor and by 1992 both vessels had non-operational ramps. Several sources state that both ships had ramps welded shut, rendering them transports instead of LSTs.

Ofiom was severely damaged during a failed beaching in 1992 and was abandoned pierside. In 1999, a contract was signed with foreign technicians to repair the ship however in April 2001 they departed due to non-payment, with only half the repairs completed. NNS Ofion had not been operational for over two decades while some of her parts had been used over time to replace some faulty parts of Ambe. In 2011 it was announced that the Nigerian navy again planned to finish the repairs.

NNS Ofiom emerged winners of the First Nigerian Navy Ship 2009 WEY C.O's Cup after defeating the NNS AMBE 4-2. The event which began on September 18th 2009 saw the two contending sides NNS Ofiom and NNS AMBE qualifying for the grand finale. Both sides dismissed their opponents with ease on their way to the final and Navy Town residents looked forward to a great final. The competition came to an end at the Road 3 Football field Navy Town, Lagos, after weeks of exciting football action.

NNS Ambe, one of the two amphibious vessels acquired by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1978 was said to have been the country's only operational Amphibious war ship used for lifting a battalion and their equipment as the second, NNS Ofion, was almost a carcass as major parts have been used to keep the burnt Ambe in shape. The ship had a capacity of lifting a battalion of 600 soldiers and their equipment at once. NNS Ambe, which became fully operational in the 1980s, played a significant roles during the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Over 72000 refugees were sea-lifted from Liberia to Nigeria by NNS AMBE and some merchant ships. Transport ships loaded with troops and equipment of the five-nation Economic Community of West African States Military Observation Group (ECOMOG) entered the port of Monrovia. During the afternoon of 24 August 1990, Nigeria’s NNS Ambe (LST 1123) and Ghana’s MV Tano River maneuvered to the mouth of the jetty area of Freeport. They temporarily withdrew after receiving some sporadic mortar fire and reentered the port later that evening. After docking, a small mix of troops debarked.

In Liberia during the ECOMOG operations, the NA could not integrate fully with NN. The problems encountered by the 2 Services was the delayed movement into Liberia from Sierra Leone as a result of malfunction of the loading ramp on the LST. Even when the ramp was repaired through combined efforts of the NN and NA Engineers, the problem re-occurred on landing at Freeport Monrovia. Also the armaments carried by the LST were not functional. This had impacted negatively on the confidence and high morale of the NA troops. The reason for these problems were attributed to lack of training for joint operations by the NA and NN before induction into the operation in Liberia.

On 02 December 1997 Sierra Leone's military junta accused Nigeria on Tuesday of moving an amphibious tank landing ship and two support vessels into Sierra Leone's territorial waters. A military spokesman said the NNS Ambe and two support ships had anchored 30 nautical miles off the Sierra Leonean coast before pulling back into international waters. "The three Nigerian warships which anchored about 30 nautical miles in Sierra Leone territorial waters have sailed back into international waters from their former position," the spokesman said.

She was also used in ferreting of drug from Europe to Nigeria at a time when there was said to be scarcity of drugs in Nigeria. In July 2001 naval authorities said that five warships in the Nigerian Navy inventory, including NNS Siri, NNS Ekun, NNS Nyam and the Frigate, NNS Ambe, would be seaworthy by December 2001 after undergoing retrofitting. In 2004 the Navy commenced refitting activities on NNS Ambe and NNS Ofiom. But within a few years NNS Ambe was reported out of commission in a poor condition.

Operation TAKUTE EKPE (Lion Trap) was held 10-15 May 2004. There were difficulties in establishing radio communications between NNS AMBE, the ship that was to beach land the troops and other participating forces. TAKUTE EKPE was aborted at the last minute because NNS AMBE, the main amphibious ship, failed to arrive at the designated landing site at the scheduled time ostensibly due to defects. On that occasion, NN operational efficiency suffered due to no ship availability. The NN landing ship that was to land troops in the theater of operation never got there until after the exercise had been deactivated because the state of the ship was not considered in the planning of the exercise. The NN ship was unserviceable and yet it was earmarked for the exercise. This was a typical example of an exercise marred by poor logistic planning and lack of coordination due to the absence of a joint logistics system.

Nigerian Naval Dockyard at Wilmot Point, Lagos was commissioned in 1990 to undertake refit of Nigerian Naval Ships. Although the naval dockyard has been in commission from 1990, it was only in 2003 that a comprehensive and structured program of refitting the entire fleet began in earnest. In 2007 NNS Ambe was undergoing refit. some marine engineers were carrying out some repairs that required welding when fire at about 2130 hours on 20 November 2007, in the superstructure of the ship. The fire was extinguished by the timely action of the Lagos State Fire Service, but by some accounts the vessel was reportedly destroyed by the fire. The fire was confined to an above deck section of the ship and the damage is considered to be minor. This happened at a time there was renewed tension in the Bakassi Peninsula, itself an Island, that would require the use of the NNS Ambe to lift troops.

In 2010, troop carrier landing craft NNS AMBE of the Nigerian Navy under repair at Navy dock yard, Wilmot Point, Lagos had caught fire under her starboard bridge deck. Ambe suffered a severe fire which started in her cargo deck and spread upwards under the starboard side of the bridge. The bridge and radio room were destroyed, and the crew berthing spaces severely damaged. The fire burnt out the entire bridge and part of the accommodation, leaving the main mast tilted to starboard on top of the compass deck which had also been seriously damaged.

In August 2010 a civilian company, Atlantic Marine Services, was contracted to remove the mast. AMS was called in to remove the mast as it was threatening to collapse. With the help of their tug EXPLORER they mobilized their 1000dwt barge H457 and their Leibherr HS871 crane alongside the NNS AMBE. The mast was secured, cut and lifted off on 13 August 2010 and delivered to NNS Olokun maintenance yard for further dismantling and repair. Since them Ambe was moored at the Wilmot Point naval dockyard in Lagos awaiting repairs.

NNS Ambe

Name No. Launch Comm. Decom. Fate
NNS Ambe LST-1312 7 July 1978 11 May 1979 - Inoperable
NNS Ofiom LST-1313 7 Dec 1978 1 July 1979 - Inoperable

Displacement 1190t standard, 1470t full, 1590t design limit, 1,750 tons fully loaded
Dimensions 285’4”x45’9”x7’5”
Machinery Diesel-reduction: 2 MTU 16V956-TB92 diesels, 4 shafts
Max speed 17kts
Range 4900NM @ 10kts loaded, 5000NM @ 12kts empty
Complement 59 (6 officers, 53 enlisted)
Typical load configuration options
  • 5 T-54/55 tanks + x4 trucks or artillery pieces + x35 fully-equipped marines
  • 10 BTR-60 APCs + x66 fully-equipped marines
  • 540 fully-equipped marines
  • 1000 unequipped passengers (short transit / disaster relief)
  • 400 tons dry cargo + x220 fully-equipped marines
  • 460 tons dry cargo
  • WEAPONS-Guns
  • 1 OTO-Melara 40mm 3NM AA/surface
  • 2 GAM-B01 20mm 1NM AA/surface
  • SENSORS-Radar
  • Decca 1226 (I)

  • NNS Ambe Hippo-class Type 502 class LST NNS Ambe Hippo-class Type 502 class LST NNS Ambe Hippo-class Type 502 class LST

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    Page last modified: 24-02-2014 19:14:33 ZULU