As part of efforts by the United States (U.S) Navy to strengthen bilateral ties with the Nigerian Navy (NN), the U.S. ship, USS HWW, is currently on a visit to Nigeria.
The USS HWW berthed on the shores of the country on Wednesday to further strengthen bilateral relations between both navies through exchange of knowledge.
Commodore LivingStone Izu, the Commanding Operation Officer (COO) of the Western Naval Command, said that part of the combined exercise to be conducted by both navies includes rig protection exercise in which six Nigerian ships would be participating.
“This is a combined exercise that we are having with the US Navy ship, USS HWW. The exercise is going to further strengthen diplomatic relations that the US and Nigeria have had over the years,” he said.
He said that the rig protection exercise was key because of the several assets like oil and that the protection of such assets are critical to the economic growth of the country.
“The exercise is a very critical to our maritime security because we have several assets in our maritime environment ,one of those assets is oil.
“So, the protection of those assets is very critical to our economic well-being as a nation.So, we are going to demonstrate that capacity and the U.S. Navy and the Nigerian Navy will be deployed there ,” he said.
The COO said that the joint exercise would also boost the confidence of the NN officers deployed for the exercise.
“This exercise in itself is going to test some of those assumptions that we have had in terms of our planning for maritime security.
“And the fact that the men can be trained together will enhance their confidence in the deployment of our vessels at sea,” he said.
Izu reacting to the visit during COVID-19 period said that the maritime environment is critical to the economy, so, a total lockdown would not be possible.
“The maritime environment is very critical to the economy ,even when we had the shortdown, there is still the need to promote trade and economic activities.
“So, it is very important that the sea lanes of communication, our sea roads are kept open so that economic activities can still thrive.
“And so, the maritime activities within this period will still need to continue despite the lockdown,” he said.
Other exercises that would be embarked upon by the joint navies are : Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), Communication.
The six ships that will participate in the exercises are: NNS PROSPERITY, NNS OKPBANA, NNS OSUN, NNS EKULU, NNS OSE and NNS NGURU.