Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nigeria's Ten Year Naval Expansion Plan

The Nigerian Navy is seeking the Federal Government's approval to upgrade and expand the Navy considerably, including adding 49 warships and 42 helicopters. The goal of the naval expansion would be to improve maritime security of national interests in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

This is in response to estimated oil revenue losses exceeding 38N billion due to recent attacks by MEND, which breaks down 19 billion was used for the repair of oil facilities destroyed by the militants while the balance of N18 billion was the value of the crude stolen by the militants.

The plan is not insignificant, and is broken down into short, medium, and long range plans.

He [Vice Admiral Ibrahim] stated that the immediate plan which will span for two years, the Federal Government should add to the inventory of the Navy two light frigates, two 85 metre OPVs, six 17 metre Manta Class IPCs, six Shaldag MK 11 Patrol Craft, two 38 metre FPBs, two combat Augusta A138 helicopters, one Landing Platform Dock, and two Logistics Ships.

In the medium term which will span between two to five years, the CNS said the Nigerian Navy would need, ten OPVs, 20 helicopters, one hydrographic ship, two training ships, two logistics ships, and two mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs).

While the long term plan which he put at between five and ten years, he requested the Federal Government to procure, three Conventional Submarines, two corvettes, two LPDs, 20 long rang maritime patrol helicopters, two training ships and two MCMVs.
It looks like the Nigerian government is being encouraged to have the multi-national oil companies that operate in Nigeria pay for the naval expansion. The article goes on to note that part of the expansion includes human capital. A few bullets:
  • Nigerian Navy should embark on training and retraining of personnel and acquisition of vessels in partnership with local industries.
  • Nigerian Navy should ensure the inter agency linkage for placement of skilled ex-Service personnel in pursuant of our nation building.
  • On regional maritime security collaboration, it was resolved that the Nigerian Navy should spearhead international maritime security cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea on the basis of the Gulf of Guinea Commission and should in liaison with relevant government agencies, convene a conference of contracting states and other stakeholder for a common maritime security policy in the region as soon as possible.
  • Pursuant to international maritime security collaboration, the Ministry of foreign Affairs should be contacted to begin confidence-building measures among member countries in the Gulf of Guinea Region to assure them that such collaborative efforts are in their common and collective interest.
  • Coastal nations in the sub-region should aim at interoperability in naval platforms, joint exchange training programmes for personnel increased investments in coastal radars and the establishment of Automated identification Systems (AIS) to facilitate regional cooperation in maritime safety and security.
Finding and purchasing all the equipment isn't the hard part of this plan, the hard part will be the human aspect of the plan.

Nigeria is trying hard to break into the worlds top 20 economies, and there is considerable Chinese investment in Nigeria helping to bring up the infrastructure. Obviously this is a very ambitious plan, but not because of the equipment but because of the human investments necessary to make the equipment useful. I want to note something though...

Something that has been on my mind lately as I observe several nations across South America, South Asia, and Africa expand their Naval forces. Compare the way Nigeria is building up a maritime security fleet with the way Brazil is building submarines first in that nations Naval expansion. Nigeria is positioning themselves to be a regional partner with their Navy in the Gulf of Guinea, where Brazil is building its Navy to be a regional power in the South Atlantic. Both nations are expanding naval forces for the purposes of securing their offshore energy resources, but the approaches are very different.

It is an interesting comparison long term to think about, because ~49 warships over 10 years would be an average of almost 5 new ships per year for Nigeria, while Brazil may spend twice as much money and may not end up with an average of 3 new ships per year. It also raises the question which approach builds confidence with international business partners, the nation protecting resources with nuclear submarines or the nation expanding the size of their maritime police force and presence on the sea surface?

Open ended question intended to get you thinking; each situation is clearly unique.

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