Amb. Anthony Holmes, the Deputy Commander, Africa Command of Civil-Military Activities of the U.S., has urged the Nigerian Navy to extend its security surveillance to cover the waters of neighbouring countries.
Holmes made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday after his visit to Rear Admiral Ibrahim Ikioda, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command.
``The Nigerian Navy has been doing well but it needs to extend its tentacles beyond Nigerian waters to the waters of neighbouring countries,’’ he said.
Holmes implored the Nigerian Navy to extend its security surveillance and other activities to accommodate a wider range of nautical miles, so as to strengthen efforts to end piracy in the West African sub-region.
He stressed that the presence of NNS Thunder in Nigerian waters would only compel pirates to change their operational routes and tactics if the Nigerian Navy strictly limited its activities to Nigeria’s territorial waters.
``To whom much is given, much is expected; we appreciate the efforts made by NNS Thunder since its arrival in Nigeria to eradicate sea robberies,’’ he said.
Holmes, who earlier inspected NNS Thunder, commended the Nigerian Navy for the refurbishing works carried out on the newly acquired ship.
NAN reports that NNS Thunder, donated to Nigeria by the U.S., has been refurbished, as its colour has been changed to naval blue and white, while its 320 mm guns and its navigational systems have been restored.
Earlier, Ikioda, who spoke through the Chief of Staff, Commodore Andrew Dacosta, lauded the partnership between the American and Nigerian navies.
``We are ready and willing to cooperate with the U.S. government, as they have demonstrated their interest in assisting us in the area of security challenges,’’ he said.
Ikioda also appealed to the U.S. government to donate more ships to the Nigerian Navy to strengthen its efforts to tackle the menace of pirates and other security challenges in Nigerian waters.
Also speaking, Capt. Mohammed Nagemu, the Commanding Officer of NNS Thunder, said that the ship, which commenced active operations on Jan. 23, had been involved in several naval exercises, while making several arrests.
``NNS Thunder, which has sailed 14, 665 nautical miles, has so far arrested two vessels, accosted 108 vessels and carried out `Exercise Obangane’, along with helicopter operations,’’ he said.
Nagemu, however, noted that the challenges facing NNS Thunder included scarcity of spare parts, insufficient tools and inadequate training for the ship’s personnel. (NAN)