HMAS Gladstone – decommissioned in 2007, spotted in this sparkling form as of 2010.
PHOTOS : WIKIMEDIA
Gentlemen, since we never tire to posit in the national interest and with a keen eye on both observed and stated requirements alike, let me show you some platforms which might turn out to be the bargain acquisitions of the decade for the Nigerian Navy – with the twin objectives that are the force multiplier effect entailed and continuous presence at sea at minimal cost, at the back of one’s mind.
The Royal Australian Navy decommissioned a flotilla of fifteen units of 41 metre 220 ton Freemantle coastal patrol craft a few years ago.
Propulsion: 2 MTU series 538 die engines(2,400 kW), 2 propellers
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h 35 mph)
5,000 nautical mile (9,300 km; 5,800 mi)
– One general purpose 40/60 mm Bofors
– Two 12.7 mm machine guns
– One 81 mm mortar
Personally, one is more interested in the eight units which were constructed in 1983 and 1984 (see the HMAS Gladstone above, for an example). The Fremantle ships boast an astonishing range of 9,300km which has to be the best that any ship that size can manage. You know what that does for our capacity to maintain a constant presence at sea in the intermediate 0-50km radius of our shores, working alongside the Sea Eagle OPCs.
It is my BELIEF that for as little as US$20 million, we can acquire eight units of the long-range Fremantle class patrol craft, cannibalise two for spares and refurbish six units of the Freemantle class in-country for a total of US$15 million at the Naval Dockyard, West Atlantic Shipyards and Continental Shipyards and put them to work for a decade by which time they would have justified the investment.
They would give us a constant presence at sea and each one of them can EITHER be spread out to serve as leadship in each of the six coastal FOBs, so that OPVs (and hopefully incoming corvettes and frigates) can be launched from the major naval bases at Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt, Ikot Abasi and Calabar OR the suggested Freemantle ships should be deployed as deemed fit by the FOCs.
Again, upriver naval stations should be consolidated at Lokoja, Makurdi and Atani while construction on the Oguta station should commence.