The Chinese government has provided for Nigeria, a combat vessel that will assist the Nigerian Navy combat illegalities within her water ways.
Although details of the vessel is yet to be made public, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade said the vessel is yet to be handed over to the Nigerian Navy but added that the process toward the handover has been initiated.
He spoke while receiving the Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Task Group which arrive Nigeria with three warship in a diplomatic visit that will involve power projection for the Chinese Navy.
Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade who received the Task Group in his office said Chinese military cooperation with Nigeria has increased within the last two years, especially with the building of a war ship for Nigeria at the Chinese Ship building company.
He said that the vessel which has been completed and launched by the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan is Christened NNS Centenary and its expected in Nigeria in July while another vessel which will be built at the Nigerian Navy Ship Yard in Port Harcourt by the Chinese Ship Building Company have been initiated.
Admiral Alade said that these vessel are aside from the one provide for Nigeria free of charge.
He said that Nigeria and China military relations dates back many years with the training of Nigerian military officers in Chinese Staff College and Defence College, adding that in recent times the relationship has progressed with the acquisition of military hardware.
The China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company had earlier in the year launched the Nigerian Navy’s first of two P-18N offshore patrol vessels.
The vessel was assigned the pennant number F91 (the pennant number F90 is assigned to the NNS Thunder, an ex-US Coast Guard cutter). The offshore patrol vessel’s launched ceremony also marked the hull formation ceremony of the second vessel, F92.
Earlier, the leader of the Task Group and the Commanding Officer of the CNS Yan Cheng, a naval
Frigate Senior Captain Li Pengcheng said during the visit, the task group and the Nigerian Navy will jointly train on counter piracy, to enable the two navies share knowledge on how to combat piracy.
He said that visit of the task group will further strengthen cooperation between the two navies especially cooperation that will promote regional peace and stability.
Earlier at a briefing on board the vessel the Chief Staff Officer Western Naval Command Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ofik who received the ship’s crew on behalf of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin said that the relationship between the two navies dates back many years, “but in those years it had been training and training alone, but we are happy that it has gone further with the acquisition of military hardware.”
He said that the Nigerian Naval Chief had asked him through the Flag Officer commanding Western Naval Command to welcome the ship’s crew to Nigeria and make it known that the Nigerian Navy is ready to support them throughout their stay in Nigeria.
However, thousands of Chinese resident in Nigeria throng the Apapa Port to welcome the Task group with a mini-carnival initiated by the Chinese to welcome the vessels.