By Shedrack Frank/Nathan Nwakamma
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command (CNC), Rear Adm. Bello Al-hassan, on Tuesday said the Navy had deployed seven ships and 37 patrol boats for maritime security drill in the Niger Delta.
Al-hassan told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Federal Ocean Terminal, Onne, that the command had commenced a sea/backwater exercise code named: ‘Octopusgrip’ in Onne, Rivers.
He said the exercise would give the participating ships and crew a great opportunity to showcase their professional capacity in securing the maritime environment within the Command’s Area of Responsibility.
According to him, the sea-based operation is to enhance the combat readiness of the troops which commenced on Monday and will last for three days.
The FOC said the objective of the exercise was to consolidate on the gains of “Operation Rivers Sweep” that was launched in January.
He said the earlier operation had reduced crude oil theft and other maritime illegalities, which caused high degree of insecurity of lives and property in the Niger Delta region.
“All ship companies are therefore, urged to put their professional skills into practice, as the ships are flagged off to achieve the objective of the exercise.
“Let me remind the general public, particularly the seafarers within the Central Naval Command, that the security of lives and property is key in the conduct of this exercise.
“I solicit your continuous cooperation and support as the CNC set to achieve one of the constitutional mandates of the Nigeria Navy, which is to ensure security within the maritime domain,” he said.
The Officer in Charge of the exercise, Commodore Habib Usman, said the operation was to assess the readiness of CNC fleet and bases as well as to test the practical skills of personnel in tackling maritime threats.
He said the exercise was in two phases: The Riverine Operation and the Sea Exercise, planned to run concurrently.