As part of fleet recapitalisation effort of the Nigerian Government, the Nigerian Navy (NN) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dearsan Shipyard Turkey to remodel the NNS ARADU.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, on Tuesday said the MoU was signed to refit the ship aimed at enhancing navy’s capability for enhanced security within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
Gambo said the NNS ARADU, which was commissioned into the Nigerian Navy Fleet as the Flag Ship in 1985, had represented Nigeria in diverse naval operations and exercises within Africa and beyond.
He said it was the only variant of the five MEKO 360 Frigates built in Germany for Argentine and Nigerian Navies.
According to him, wear and tear associated with sustained use as well as the harsh operating environment has taken its toll on the edifice.
“However, with the support of the Federal Government of Nigeria through the unrelenting efforts of the Standing Senate Committee on rehabilitation of NNS ARADU, we are gathered here today to commence modalities to reroll and modernise the nation’s flag ship.
“Another significance of today’s event is the landmark agreement for the supply of additional 57-meter Fast Attack Craft to support the remodelled Flag Ship.
“Undoubtedly, operationalisation of these two vessels will not only increase the fleet of ships but also reposition the Nigerian navy for enhanced maritime security operations for socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria and Africa at large,” Gambo said.
The naval chief said the choice of partnering with Messrs Dearsan Shipyard was based on the company’s track record in high-quality ship building capability as well as strict adherence to agreed timelines.
He added that the firms were currently constructing two High Endurance 76-meter Offshore Patrol Vessels for the navy in Turkey.
“A major consideration is the fact that several equipment, auxiliaries and subsystems being used in the construction of the offshore patrol vessels will be fitted on board NNS ARADU.
“This is to further enhance operability and equipment standardisation, which undoubtedly will guarantee
seamless maintenance necessary to extend the life span of the remodelled flag ship.
“The MoU will re-ignite the partnership between both organisations in promoting synergy toward enhancing security as well as fostering operations and shipbuilding engagements that will enhance capability for the sustainable development of the Blue Economy for Nigeria’s prosperity,” he said.
Gambo appreciated the sustained efforts and support from the federal government, saying it has been instrumental to the successes recorded by the Nigerian navy.
He expressed confidence that the shipyard would actualise a high-quality result and deliver both vessels on schedule.
The naval chief implored both parties to be committed toward the attainment of the objectives.
The Chief Policy and Plans (Navy), Rear Adm. Saidu Garba, said the 125.6 meter ship was the largest in the navy inventory as a general proposed frigate.
Garba said that NNS ARADU was an all-purpose frigate fighting ship capable of undertaking several missions in concert with other units.
He said it has a sustained and independent blue water patrol over a range of 6,500 miles and provides gunfire support to friendly forces operating up to 16 kilometres from the coast.
“It has capability for air defence, submarine warfare, electronic warfare and the ship warfare missiles main lane, as well as airborne or surface search and rescue.
“Since our entry into the service, NNS Aradu has taken part in major naval exercises, fleet reviews and diplomatic cruises.
“The ship has undertaken extensive diplomatic visits to countries like Gabon, Congo, Zaire, Equatorial Guinea and numerous European countries,” he said
The Managing Director, Dearsan Shipyard Turkey, Mr Mukat Gordi, thanked the Nigerian navy for the opportunity to take responsibility as the prime contractor of NNS ARADU modernisation programme.
Gordi said that the relationship started following the signing ceremony of 76m Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in December 2021.
He said that the 76m OPVs programme had progressed as planned, adding that they aimed to launch the OPVs by the end of the year and deliver the vessels earlier than the contractual dates.
“Since we are aware of the historical importance of NNS ARADU as the flagship of the Nigerian navy, we have initiated our surveys on board the NNS ARADU last year and finalised it in our latest visit to Lagos this week.
“Therefore, we would like to emphasise once again that we are highly honoured for having this chance of being the prime contractor of NNS ARADU modernisation programme.
“We assure you that we will accomplish the modernisation and refit programme according to our contract in time and deliver to the Nigerian Navy,” Gordi said.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Sen. George Sekibo, said the navy had worked excellently with the Senate to achieve results.
Sekibo said the signing of the MoU was a landmark achievement owing to the fact that the refitting of the ship appeared impossible at a time.
He said that there had been so much improvement in the security around the nation’s maritime environment.