THE Nigerian Navy, on Wednesday, inaugurated 39 locally-made gunboats and 45 operational vehicles to enhance the fight against maritime crime in parts of the country.
Speaking at the inauguration, Minister of State for Defence, Mohammad Dan-Ali, said the gunboats were fitted with appropriate weapons and anti-balistic protection to enhance optimal efficiency.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the minister was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Danjuma Sheni.
“The country’s security challenges have continued to demand a great deal of human and material resources to surmount, which, in the light of dwindling revenue, would be sustainable only with generous innovations and incorporation of home grown solutions,” Dan-Ali said.
He said the thirty 8.2 metre boats, which were constructed for the navy by Epenal Boat Yard in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, would be deployed for rigorous patrols in the Niger Delta, while additional 20 would be delivered subsequently.
“I am hopeful that the boats being launched today would further boost the ongoing patrol efforts in the various rivers and creeks of the country to the immense benefit of the nation’s maritime security,” the minister said.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas, in his welcome address, said that the Epenal boats were an improvement on 30 others unveiled in Port Harcourt in February.
“These boats, no doubt, have boosted navy maritime operations. However, as part of the efforts to continue to achieve unchallenged dominance of our maritime environment, the navy, within a space of six months, has launched another 39 specially built patrol boats into its fleet,” he said.