Harder days await economic saboteurs in the Niger Delta region as the Nigerian Navy has deployed no fewer than 40 gunboats, scores of military helicopters, nine Capital Seas and 11 IPCS Town Class vessels to commence its annual ‘Exercise Eagle Eye’ on the waterways.
The exercise, billed to last for five days, was kicked off by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral IE Ibas, on Thursday at the NPA Jetty in Warri, Delta State.
Represented by the Chief of Training & Operations, Rear Admiral Adeniyi Osinowo, Rear Admiral Ibas, disclosed that Exercise Eagle Eye was predicated on his strategic directive of achieving a secured maritime environment that will promote shipping activities, increase crude oil production and other economic activities.
He said as a result of the proliferation of different militant groups and their agitations, as well as other criminal activities ongoing in the region, the Navy has arrived at new operational concepts to tackle the emerging challenges in the waterways.
When asked if the five-day Exercise Eagle Eye would not hamper the ongoing dialogue process with leaders of the region, the CNS noted that the Navy has due respect for the negotiation, social engagement and dialogue process, but would continue to monitor its area of operations and take appropriate directions.
He added that his men will take seriously sustained anti-piracy operation to safeguard the seafaring community, and stop criminals from attacking critical oil and gas facilities in line with the mandate of the force.
Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command (CNC), Real Admiral Mohammed Garba, while addressing the combatants, disclosed that the exercise will be conducted within parts of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) and the entire Central Naval Command (CNC).
According to Garba, who is directly in charge of the exercise, the areas of operations in the two commands cover 220 nautical miles (NM), everything seaward up to 180 NM and a sea area of 39,600sqNM.
He noted that the Exercise Eagle Eye was intended to determine the strengths and weaknesses of extant standard of operations and Nigerian Navy logistics arrangements and proficiency gaps among officers and personnel in maritime operations.