By Frank Oshanugor
The Nigerian Navy on Thursday in Saint Nazaire, France took delivery of its first ever purpose built Offshore Survey Vessel, ‘NNS LANA’.
Speaking at the Flag Transfer Ceremony (FTC), the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), represented by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo stated that the new vessel was conceived as a replacement to the previous NNS LANA, a survey ship that was decommissioned about 10 years ago.
Magashi who was the special guest of honour at the event added that the occasion marked a great milestone in the fulfilment of the dream of not only replacing but, enhancing navy’s survey capability.
The new vessel is expected to fill the void created following the decommissioning of the previous NNS LANA.
Highlighting the import of having a survey vessel like NNS LANA, the minister said that survey services and charting waterways play a crucial role in ensuring safe navigation as well as delivery of maritime security. “Hence, NNS LANA will not only enhance the safety of Nigeria’s maritime environment but the ship will serve as a critical component in the projection of naval power for enhanced maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It will also play a critical role in protection of maritime resources and preservation of law and order at sea, thus contributing significantly to promotion of global maritime commerce”, he said.
He lauded president Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment towards the recapitalization of the Nigerian navy fleet.
The minister also lauded Nigeria’s Ambassador to France, Dr. Modupe Irele, the management and staff of Messrs OCEA and all others who have contributed one way or the other towards the change of Flag Ceremony. Again, he congratulated the Commanding Officer, Captain AB Mahmud and his ships’ company as the pioneer crew of the brand new masterpiece as she begins her voyage into the seas.
Speaking further at the event, the minister explained that the choice of Messrs OCEA by the navy to construct the new NNS LANA was based on its impeccable track record of high quality ship building capacity as well as the belief in the company to adhere to agreed time lines. “Suffice to state that the construction of LANA by Messrs OCEA is much more significant bearing in mind that this has been achieved despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, Major General Magashi (rtd) congratulated Messrs OCEA for this feat. He equally noted with delight that the acquisition of NNS LANA brings to 18 the number of OCEA platforms in the Nigerian Navy’s inventory and also the Company was recently awarded the contract to construct a 35m Hydro boat to complement NNS LANA.
“Notably, the construction of the Offshore Survey Vessel 190 MKII (NNS LANA) commenced in December 2019 and the project was divided into four major milestones which were the completion of the deck molds, completion of hull blocks, hull assembly on the main deck and the delivery and installation of the main engines at the shipyard.
“These milestones were the benchmarks, which determined the level of work achieved at each stage of the project. The building process was successfully completed and the Ship was launched on 24 September 2020 at Les Sables d’Olonne, France. The new Ship with a visual call sign A499 was named NNS LANA apparently conceived as a rebirth of the former Nigerian Navy Ship LANA (A498), which was decommissioned”, he said.
The new NNS LANA (A499) is designed and purposely built to enable the NN conduct hydrographic and oceanographic surveys. It is also capable of conducting geophysical studies, search and rescue operations as well as patrol duties. The ship is equipped with state-of-the-art modern survey equipment as well as a well-equipped 7.6m surface vehicle for shallow water surveys.
Furthermore, the ship has an Automatic Weather Station (AWS), wet and dry laboratories, scientific and technical workshops as well as operating and processing rooms for survey data. The machineries include 2 x MTU engines, 3 x CAT main generators/one emergency generator, electric propulsion system and other auxiliaries. The electric propulsion, which is operated at survey speed is particularly installed to minimize distortion of data due to machinery noise. The Ship has a maximum speed of 14 knots and a capacity of 50 crew.
NNS LANA was handed over to the Nigerian Navy in France on 15 January 2021 after the provisional acceptance trials was concluded. The crew training commenced in January 2021 and ended on 12 April 2021. The change of flag ceremony marks her readiness to embark on her maiden homebound voyage to Nigeria. Expectedly, NNS LANA would join the Nigerian Navy Fleet in May 2021.
It is envisaged that the rebirth of NNS LANA would afford the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Department the leverage to successfully and systematically conduct hydrographic surveys and charting of Nigeria’s waters. It would also afford Nigeria with the opportunity of keying into the General Bathymetric Charts of the Oceans (GEBCO) Seabed 2030 project and the Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) synthesis project which would ultimately facilitate Nigeria’s accomplishment of its obligation under SOLAS Convention in accordance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s deliberate and sustained policies on maritime safety and security.
Dignitaries at the event included the Nigerian Ambassador to France, Dr. Modupe Irele, the representative of the French Navy, Vice Admiral Oliver Le bas and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, who represented the minister of defence. Others were the CEO OCEA, Mr. Roland Joassard and representative of the ministry of defence, Major General Benson Akinroluyo