Oil bunkery: Navy kick starts 5-day practical test of personnel, equipment in Niger Delta Wednesday

IN a move to check oil bunkery and piracy, the Nigerian Navy on Wednesday disclosed that it will today kick-start a practical exercise in the Niger Delta region to assess the readiness and operational state of its fleet to checkmate illegal activities in the nation waterways.

Addressing newsmen, in Abuja, the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Jacob Ajani, disclosed that, the five-day long exercise, will begin today, in Delta State code name “Eagle eye exercise”.

The Eagle Eye exercise, he said “will be used to practice the commands in intelligence sharing with other maritime security agencies especially with respect to surveillance, threat assessment and operational engagements.”

Speaking further, he said the exercise “will further assess the quality and management of the ship and fleet maintenance. The exercise will also identify inadequacies in skills, training and doctrinal practices in Nigerian Navy operations and assess the effectiveness of Nigerian Navy logistics support practices.”

According to him, a total of 13 vessels, 80 inshore patrol craft, helicopters, private maritime security vessels will also participate in the exercise.

Part of the exercise he said, “includes reorganisation of capital ship to deployments, exploitation of Ships-Taken Up From Trade, STUFT, acquisition of over 80 gun boats and inshore patrol craft among others.”

The exercise, he maintained was necessary, because “threats have posed challenges to the operational capability and capacity of the Nigerian Navy adding that acts of piracy, armed robbery at sea, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, illegal oil refining, kidnapping, sabotage among others have created a sense of insecurity in the maritime domain and the country at large.”

He however asked communities where the exercise will be conducted to remain calm as the drills “would be in line with tested standards operating procedures and international best practices.”

He equally stated that, the undesirable trend of security in the country has compelled the Nigerian Navy to respond to the situation by creating a number of activities such as Operation Tsare Teku, Choke Point Management and control the infection regime with the deployment of House Boats (HBs).