By Braxton Ilobah
The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Monday launched a new Landing Ship Tank (LST) at Damen Shipyard, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
A Landing Ship Tank is the naval designation for ships first developed during World War II (1939–1945) to support amphibious operations by carrying tanks, vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto shore with no docks or piers. This enabled amphibious assaults on almost any beach.
The LST had a highly specialized design that enabled ocean crossings as well as shore groundings.
The construction of the ship began about 2 years ago and when commissioned, it will replace the first set of LSTs of the navy, NNS AMBE and NNS OFIOM, which have been decommissioned.
The introduction of the LST to the navy inventory will bolster its sealift capability. Specifically, it would enhance the transportation of troops, military hardware, vehicles in the conduct of maritime security operations launched from sea as well as supply of relief material during period of national emergency. Furthermore, the vessel will serve as a critical component of naval power projection for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond.
In its secondary role, the LST will play a critical role in the protection of maritime assets and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce, peace and safety.
The new LST has a complement of 32 crew and 250 embarked persons and a length of 100.08m. She is powered by 2 Caterpillar/Cat 3516 C-rating engines and 4 Caterpillar C-18 generators. Furthermore, she has an endurance of 15 days @ 15 knots. If she is to be used for humanitarian missions/evacuation, she can accommodate over 450 persons on its upper and lower decks in short trips.
The bid opening process for the procurement of the LST was held on December 19, 2017 and supervised/conducted by a team from the Bureau of Public Procurement as well as a technical committee of the Navy.
According to naval Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun, “The Shipbuilding companies that participated were Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, Anadolu Deniz of Turkey and Indian Shipyards GOA of India. On June 13, 2019, the Nigerian navy and Damen Shipyards signed the final general arrangement plan and specifications on the LST 100 and this date of June 13, 2019 became the effective date of contract for the LST 100.
“The contract duration as agreed by both parties was approximately 36 months from the effective date of contract. The Keel laying ceremony for the LST 100 was held on the December 9, 2019 at the Damen-Albwardy Shipyard in Sharjah the UAE. The immediate past CNS Vice Admiral IE Ibas placed the Nigerian Navy insignia into the keel and sealed it.
“Over the last two years, several Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) with regards to various components of the LST 100 has been jointly and successfully completed by the Nigerian navy and Damen shipyards. Most notable among these FAT’s was the main propulsion engines tested in 2019/2020 and the Remote Weapon system, which was also successfully tested in March, 2021”.
A Damen shipyard is one of the biggest multinational shipbuilding groups in the world, operating more than 50 shipbuilding and repair yards worldwide. On the African continent, they operate a full shipbuilding yard in South Africa and in Port Harcourt Nigeria; they operate a fully equipped maintenance yard.
The LST contract is being handled by DSNS (Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding) the naval shipbuilding arm of Damen shipyards and the ship is being constructed at the Damen-Albwardi Shipbuilding Yard in Sharjar in the UAE.
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