The Navy has deployed eight ships and two helicopters in the Gulf Guinea for a special exercise codenamed, Operation Beni Kekere 2021, known in Ijaw language as water protection.
Flagging off the operation in Rivers State at the weekend, the Flag Officer (FoC) Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral SK Ibrahim, described the maritime domain in the Gulf of Guinea as strategic to national security and development.
Ibrahim said the resources had been persistently threatened by piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and illegal bunkering as well as illegal unreported and unregulated fishing among others.
He said though the navy had recorded landmark achievements in curtailing such threats, the persistency of perpetrators required consistent renew of strategies to deny them freedom of operation.
“It is in this regard that the Eastern and Central Naval commands joint exercise, which is first of its kind in recent years, is organised to consolidate on the successes of the ongoing operation Calm Water II,” he said.
Ibrahim said all the maritime domain awareness facilities and elements of the commands would participate in the sea exercise, which would involve anti-piracy operations, protection of oil facilities and search and rescue operations among others.
He said the operation bases and Naval security stations in the two commands would conduct clearance operations against criminal hideouts and illegal refineries in the backwaters in collaboration with Operation Delta Safe.
He expressed optimism that the operation would provide the necessary bite to the nation’s anti-piracy law recently passed by the National Assembly.
Ibrahim thanked the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice-Admiral AZ Gambo, for providing the necessary support for the exercise.
The FOC, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Kennedy Egbuchulam, said the essence of the exercise was to enhance collaboration and combat capabilities of the navy against criminality.