Beeg Eagle’s Blog can authoritatively report the fact , following exhaustive investigation into the affair, that the Nigerian Navy which appeared to have lost out to the Bangladesh Navy in the hunt for a pair of ex-British Royal Navy 1,850 ton, 85-metre Castle-class OPVs have actually gone one better and acquired one of the much larger USCG Hamilton-class cutters which will serve as an Offshore Patrol Vessel in the Nigerian Navy.
The 115m ex-USCG ship weighing in at 3,250 tons is one of a flotilla of twelve sister ships which were extensively modernised in the early 1990s. In real terms, though not nearly as heavily armed, the Hamilton-class are roughly the size of Nigeria’s flagship, the MEKO 360 frigate that is NNS Aradu and that says a lot about their potential seakeeping capabilities.
Nigerian Navy personnel quoted as being in training in Alaska above will probably steer the ship back to Nigeria. The Nigerian Navy are reportedly billed to take possession of the warship in May 2011.
EXCERPTS FROM JANES’ INTERNATIONAL NAVIES:
” *Nigerian Navy prepares for Chase.
About 20 Nigerian naval personnel are undergoing familiarisation training aboard one of the US Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) Hamilton-class high endurance cutters before taking delivery..09-Mar-2011”
Confirmation of the sale of the vessel to Nigeria can be found on the website of the United States Coast Guard.
As far as the acquisition of naval platforms go, Nigeria have been virtually slumbering for twenty years on the bounce. It is hoped that they reach for a minimum of FOUR units of these Hamilton-class warships. Sometime ago, it emerged somewhere that Nigeria need 35 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) and Offshore Patrol Craft(OPC) to effectively police her Exclusive Economic Zone.
Even so, this was an evaluation which was carried out before September 2009 when her EEZ was increased from the previous 200 nautical mile limit to the current 350 nautical mile limit.
It is the case that for the price of a new frigate, Nigeria can acquire six of these used but still seaworthy OPVs (three or four when the OPVs are acquired brand-new). Right now, Nigeria’s emphasis should be piling on the numbers.
There are countries in Scandinavia such as Sweden and Denmark which have large fleets of cutters, fisheries protection vessels, OPCs and OPVs decommissioned or on the cusp of becoming so. Ditto Canada.
For a token and with the 2011 defence budget put at about US$2.05 billion, Nigeria can easily afford to grab several of such platforms and with those not already armed to the desired degree, the Navy can then acquire 40mm, 57mm and 76mm naval guns from either Israel, Singapore or China and have them mounted on the platforms, in-country.
In tandem with the foregoing, the Federal Government also need to acquire new platforms such as landing ships and corvettes for the Navy.
The Nigerian Navy are up for it with the menace of armed insurrection, illegal fishing, oil bunkering, piracy and terrorism being so rife within Nigeria’s maritime frontiers with Central Africa where Nigeria also have to police resource-rich Joint Development Zones with Sao Tome and Equato-Guinea respectively as well as oil industry infrastructure.
In SW Nigeria where the busiest shipping route in West and Central Africa is situated, piracy remains a real threat. For a fact, Nigeria’s EEZ is consistently ranked by the International Maritime Organisation as the deadliest on the planet bar Somalia’s.
If the international contingents active off Somalia are equipped with destroyers and frigates, the most cost-effective option available to the Nigerian Navy who are fated to multi-task at sea is to acquire platforms as huge as the USCGC Chase which are oceangoing and can withstand the very turbulent sea states which are bound to go with the challenge.
Even Equatorial-Guinea which received her first-ever Coastal Patrol Craft(a Simmoneau SM 5115) from Nigeria in 1986 are preparing to take charge of their EEZ and have thus far splashed out about $300-350m on the acquisition of a pair of brand-new Israeli-built OPVs and a triad of South Korean-built corvettes…a fantastic bargain for new platforms!
It is gladdening that the FG have finally decided to take on the bigger challenge of acquiring major surface combatants for the Navy. It has taken a very long time indeed which should never again be the case. Nigeria only need to buy smart with the resources made available to the Navy.
This is surely a new and good beginning of a hoped-for total renewal of the Nigerian Navy. Kudos to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
|Displacement:||3,250 metric tons|
|Length:||378 ft (115 m)|
|Beam:||43 ft (13 m)|
|Draft:||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||CODOG system featuring 2 x Pratt & Whittney FT4A-6 gas turbines producing 36,000 horsepower (27,000 kW) or 2 x Fairbanks-Morse 38TD8-1/8-12 12-cylinder diesel engines generating 7,000 hp (5,200 kW)|
|Range:||14,000 nautical miles|
|Armament:||76 mm cannon, 2x 25 mm Mk38, 20 mm Phalanx CIWS (Close In Weapons System)|