Consolidate the capacity for the protection of the waters of the Gulf of Guinea
In an effort to consolidate its capacity to protect the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian navy recently joined forces with its Spanish counterparts in a two-day exercise at sea, reports Chiemelie Ezeobi.
The waters of the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) cover 2.3 million square kilometers (888,000 square meters) and border more than a dozen countries. Spread across 19 coastal and island states, the GoG coastline, stretching from the waters off Senegal to southern Angola, is a treasure trove of rich resources.
Comprising 26 countries grouped into two Regional Economic Communities (RECs) namely – Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS, 11 States with the return of Rwanda) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ; 15 States), the total population of GoG countries is around 472 million inhabitants, with 160 and 310 million inhabitants respectively for ECCAS and ECOWAS.
Covering an area of ââ11,755,258 square kilometers, including a coastline of over 6,000 kilometers from Senegal to Angola, the GoG countries have around 24 billion barrels of crude oil reserves, or 5% of world reserves; five million barrels of crude oil per day; 40 percent of European oil consumption and 29 percent of US oil consumption.
In addition, the GoG is also the main channel for international trade and is at the heart of the economy of the associated regions. It is increasingly seen today as a resource provider and an essential contributor to the national growth and prosperity of the many nations that line its coasts and even those on land and without common borders.
But despite its wealth of resources, the waters of the GoG face various maritime threats. This is more alarming given that the maritime environment is one of the pillars of the Nigerian economy.
It is a fact that these various threats of insecurity have over the years been a source of considerable concern as the national network of oil and gas installations as well as associated maritime transport have been threatened by maritime crimes such as piracy, sea ââtheft, theft of crude oil. (COT), illegal oil bunkering, smuggling, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), activism and kidnapping for ransom.
Thus, the dedication of the Nigerian Navy (NN) to ensuring a safe and secure maritime domain is not in itself surprising given that Nigeria, as one of the GoG countries, has a coastline of approximately 420 nautical miles (nm) and an exclusive economic zone. (EEZ) of 200 nm covering approximately 84,000 square nm of the National Maritime Environment (NME).
In addition, the country’s maritime area of ââinterest, which includes the entire GoG and spans approximately 574,800 square nautical miles covering a total coastline of 2,874 nm from Senegal to Angola, is a huge maritime space rich in numerous hydrocarbon and mineral resources and also serves as a strategic route. for maritime trade.
In addition to protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity, the NN also contributes to its quota at the regional level, by patrolling GoG waters. So, to consolidate on such a long-established capability, the NN recently partnered with its Spanish counterpart for a two-day at-sea exercise in GoG waters.
For the exercise, a total of four Nigerian Navy ships, a helicopter and elements of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service (SBS) participated. The vessels involved were NNS NNS PROSPERITY, NNS NGURU, NNS EKULU and NNS OSUN, including the NN helicopter, which carried out a medical evacuation at sea. The exercise was carried out with the Spanish Navy Vessel (SNS) FUROR .
At sea, the fleet has conducted several exercises including anti-piracy operations, fleet maneuvers, communications, shipboard search and seizure (VBSS), search and rescue, among others.
According to the Commanding Flag Officer (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, the visit further solidified the relationship between the two countries which has greatly contributed to improving capacity on the NN side, adding that â As part of our naval responsibilities, navies around the world as a universal service always collaborate and cooperate in the areas of maritime operations. Their visit to the port of Lagos is part of this function of the navy and it is with pleasure that we welcome them â.
The FOC also noted that the exercise will go a long way in improving the ability to monitor the maritime environment while further strengthening their relationship, especially since the two navies have a relationship that goes back some time.
âIn the past two years, this is the fourth SNS that has visited Nigeria and on each of their visits, we jointly conduct an exercise concerning the protection of the Gulf of Guinea. Their experience must have informed and encouraged your stopover, so we intend to use your visit to expand into other areas of training. The areas where we will have to conduct joint higher level training exchange programs that will contribute to all our efforts to secure not only our waters, but the Gulf of Guinea â.
Also speaking, SNS Furor Commander, Lieutenant-Commander Diego Mendoza said working with the NN, which is the GoG’s largest navy, would yield cost-effective results in terms of improving safety, adding that the ships Spaniards do not generally sail in the Gulf. the collaboration provided a wonderful opportunity for such an experience and the opportunity to work with the NN as well.