Four warships and 3,400 troops were deployed by the Nigerian Navy to combat piracy, oil theft and vandalism of critical oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region.
Rear Adm. James Oluwole, the flag officer commanding Eastern Naval Command, announced the deployment, codenamed “Exercise Sharkbite” on November 3 in Onne, Rivers state.
The warships deployed for the operation were the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana, NNS Ologbo, NNS Burutu, NNS Sagbama, and a naval Augusta helicopter, while the 3,400 personnel included 3,000 ratings and 400 officers.
According to Oluwole, the exercise is also aimed to determine combat readiness of the soldiers to tackle militant attacks on oil and gas pipelines, which caused the recession in Nigeria.
The officer revealed that the exercise covers 24,000 maritime miles between Rivers and Cross River states coastal areas, and that it would promote socioeconomic activities at the nation’s maritime sphere.
“This exercise was informed by worsening vandalism of critical oil and gas infrastructure by militants, which has plunged the nation into recession,” Oluwole said.
“The participating fleets will conduct naval evolutions, patrols, visit, boarding, search and seizure, opposed boarding of a hijacked vessel, maritime interception, blockade of some river entrances and target practice, among others.”
“The Nigerian Navy must be in the best position to secure critical oil and gas infrastructure both ashore and offshore for socioeconomic activities to thrive in our maritime domain.
“The 3,400 personnel participating in this exercise comprised 3,000 ratings and 400 officers.”
President Muhammadu Buhari has just recently held two meetings with with leaders of the Niger Delta to resolve the crises that has bedeviled the region for years and affected Nigeria’s oil output an revenue.
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