Formally taking ownership of survey and charting of its own waters, an exercise hitherto performed by the British across West and Central Africa, the Nigerian Navy (NN) has commenced the systematic survey of the country’s offshore waters.
This came 200 years after the colonial masters attempted it and took over charting of Nigerian waters, as well as that of other West and Central nations.
But with the acquisition of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) LANA, a hydrographic vessel, which is the first of its kind in the region, the Navy came into its own and began charting the nation’s entire 84,000 square nautical miles, including the back waters.
The multipurpose vessel, which set sail yesterday afternoon and would cover 22 nautical miles from shore for the exercise, was flagged off by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT parade ground in Apapa, Lagos.
The charting is expected to drastically reduce navigational risks to mariners posed by wreckage, enhance national security and boost the income of maritime agencies.
NNS LANA set sail by Captain AB Mahmud after the minister boarded the vessel for an on-the-spot assessment and flag-off the exercise.
Speaking at the ceremony, Amaechi said the federal government was constructing another 35-metre survey vessel for the navy in France, adding that the survey of the country’s waters would lead to the generation of about two million jobs as it would increase patronage of the country’s ports.
He said: “As this vessel commences the survey of Nigerian offshore today it is expected it would provide the necessary enablers to support the federal government’s economic diversification initiative through improved maritime security, maritime trade as well as improved economic prosperity.
“NNS LANA in conjunction with a similar vessel to be acquired by the federal government would in a few years from now, completely survey offshore waters and produce indigenous nautical charts, publications to facilitate improve maritime shipping, security and economic development in Nigeria.
“It is also expected that at the end of this survey and charting campaign, up-to-date indigenous nautical products will be available to facilitate smooth kick of the new seaports that are under construction.
“Additionally, completion of this survey and charting operation would boost confidence of both mariners to increase patronage of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar ports, just as the Warri, Sapale and other ports that are hitherto operating at the lowest level would be reactivated.
“This would provide over two million direct and indirect jobs, increase the economic viability of these ports and ultimately decongest Lagos traffic as well as reduce pressure on our roads.”
In his address, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo emphasised that the exercise was the first indigenous survey of the country’s waters and the second attempt since the 19th century.
He said: “This would be a Nigerian owned survey vessel manned by Nigerian Navy personnel to conduct systematic hydrographic survey of our offshore waters for the purpose of producing indigenous charts of our waters.
” The implications of this is that in the next few years, indigenously produced survey data would be used to produce up-to-date nautical charts and publications for mariners’ use within Nigerian waters.
“This would not only replace old Admiralty chart currently used, it would also lead to the increase of safety within our waters, boost confidence of mariners leading to increase shipping traffic into various Nigerian ports for enhance economic prosperity.”