The Nigerian Navy has rolled out its ships into the country’s territorial waters within the Gulf of Guinea. The Exercise named Eagle Eye is meant to display the capabilities of the Navy in providing maritime security and curbing the rate of crime at sea.
Defence Correspondent, Sifon Essien was aboard the Nigeria Navy Ship Centenary and reports that aside providing the Naval Chief the opportunity to assess the combat readiness of the Nigerian Navy, the exercise is also meant to provide maritime security, in the wake of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure.
The brief by the Chief of Naval Staff, supported by the Chief of Defence Staff, marks the beginning of the exercise.
Nigeria Navy Ship Centenary or NNS Centenary is the leader of the fleet in the exercise. Two tug boats pull the ship into position, ready to sail.
NNS Centenary casts off from the jetty at the Onne Port.
It sails through the Bonny River Channel, escorted by two boats manned by members of the Navy’s Special Forces.
After about three hours, it navigates by Bonny Island. NNS Centenary, leading the fleet of Navy Ships, continues several nautical miles in the Nigerian territorial water within the Gulf of Guinea.
Navy Captian Sam Bura is the Commander of the Ship.
The mission of the fleet is get as far as the Agbami Oil Field. After travelling for more than 24 hours, Agbami is now in view.
The 3.5 Billion US Dollar oil field project is Nigeria’s largest deep water development.
The field came on stream in July 2008 and reached its peak production rate of 250, 000 barrel per day in August 2009.
The strategic importance of the project informs why the Navy ships have come this far.
The Nigerian Air force Maritime patrol aircraft hovers across the area to provide air support.
The Naval Chief is pleased with the outcome of the exercise at sea.
But there are indications a lot more still needs to be done to improve the Navy’s capacity.