Nigerian Navy to set up Maritime Taskforce
On Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023 the Bulk carrier GREBE BULKER was reportedly attacked by pirates at Owendo Anchorage, Gabon in the Gulf of Guinea. According to the TradeWinds report, 3 crew members were kidnapped, including the Captain, Second and Third Officers. However the other 17 members of the crew were unharmed. The ship had arrived at Owendo Anchorage on Apr 30 from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
There has been a spike in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in recent weeks including the kidnap of 6 crew members of the Monjasa Reformer as we earlier reported here. It was reported on 8th May that the kidnapped crew had been released.
In response to the recent attacks, the Nigerian Navy said on 15th April that the service would sustain its presence in the Gulf of Guinea region as well as directing its “operational bases” to “enhance efforts to dominate their area of operations”.
On Wednesday, May 10th, the Nigerian Navy disclosed plans to set up a Maritime Task Force with other countries in the Gulf of Guinea in order to boost security and rid the region of criminalities and other emerging threats. The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awaal Gambo, made this known during a press conference on the Nigerian Navy Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) 2023, in Abuja.
The Naval Chief, who was represented by Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, Chief of Policy and Plans, said that the formation of the task force would be discussed on Saturday, 18th May, 2023 during the scheduled activities to mark the Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) which is expected to have heads of Navies and other key stakeholders in attendance.
“One of the deliverables of that engagement would be a formation of a task force, Once we form it, it would be conducted among the nations across the entire Gulf, in which there is information sharing, joint operations at sea; all these will ensure we create a proper architecture that we will use to fight criminalities in our waters”, he said, while noting that incidents of piracy have crept up in the last few months. He explained that Nigeria would take the lead on this and bring other countries to setup the force, leveraging existing legal instruments such as the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2015), and an African Union resolution for the formation of maritime task forces across the regions of Africa.
The PFR will run from Friday 19th Monday 22nd May 2023 in Lagos. “The PFR involves 16 NN warships, 3 x AW109E Nigerian Navy helicopters and a mix of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Aircraft,” Garba noted. He said some foreign warships from allied nations including Spain, Brazil and Ghana are also expected to participate in the exercise.
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