By Okosun Dennis
The Naval Dockyard Limited (NDL) has a long history in its impeccable engineering works in fabrication, conceptualization, and shipbuilding of all shapes and sizes.
As a result, various shipping companies, and the Nigerian Navy in particular, have been major beneficiaries with excellent platforms indigenously manufactured by this company, attracting the Who is Who in the shipping industries, and bringing into perspective local content in ship-building.
On Thursday, 17th August 2023, its ingenuity coupled with excellent results over the years, emerged in a glowing testimony of a company that have delivered a first class “Glass Reinforced Plastic” riverine boats to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in a classic ceremony at its cozy Conference Room, Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Describing the dockyard as a “strategic national asset,” the Admiral Superintendent of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Bolaji Orederu explained that the world hasn’t seen the best of the foremost indigenous shipbuilding company as they are poised to build the best of ships, boats and barges for companies and the navy.
NDL had its first built Seaward Defence Boat (SDB) warship christened NNS Andoni launched on June 1, 2012, with pomp and ceremony. It was chaired by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan with the Nigerian Military top brass and Service Chiefs including Federal Parliamentarians gracing the auspicious occasion.
Since then, other remarkable and world-class ships built including NNS Karaduwa and NNS Oji. At the moment, the keel for the building of two other warships were laid by former President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Admiral Orederu, the boats (6×GRP) were conceptualized, designed, and built to suit those requirements while factoring in the operating environment in designing and construction.
These boats, which are made from Glass Reinforce Plastic with flat bottom keels, are propelled by 2 X 85 HP outboard engines and capable of attaining speeds up to 15 knots. The Boats have a length overall of 7.5 meters, molded beam of 2.4 meters, and a draught of 1.5 meters, enabling them to operate and maneuver within the relatively shallow and winding backwaters.
While handing over the boats to the Director, Special Duties, FMARD, Mrs Fausat Lawal, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla said that “the 6 x GRP Boats is part of the first steps the Nigerian Navy made towards indigenizing ship construction and maintenance, typifying a transformation that has led to building naval vessels, local capacity and self-reliance in the country.”
Interestingly, from the initiation, design, and building of the boats, it was strictly Nigerian content-driven. “They were conceptualized by myself as the General Manager here and the design was done by Captain Charles Obute and the construction work started. I am glad that the boats have been handed over to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“This says a lot about our local content considering that the navy have been gracious enough to give the opportunity to Naval Dockyard. It has built three ships for the Nigerian Navy. These include NNS Andoni, NNS Karaduwa, and NNS Oji. The CNS has also given us the mandate to start the construction of another two sets of ships for the NN.
“I must, at this point, state that the construction of these vessels represents one of the initial steps of the Nigerian Navy’s strides towards developing indigenous shipbuilding and boats construction capability which would be remembered in history. The building of these boats is, therefore, a demonstration of the Navy’s commitment, under the leadership of Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, to collaborate and support other government agencies in achieving their mandate,” Rear Admiral Orederu reemphasized.
He added that the “Naval Dockyard has a lot to offer the nation in terms of the local content. “We are building ships, barges, boats, offshore trawlers and also partner with other maritime players and do construction and fabrication activities.
“Dockyard is a strategic national asset that has been in the custody of the NN; an asset the Federal government must continue to ensure that is viable for the maritime industry, support the oil and gas industry and state government.
Speaking on the endurance and the capacity to stay on the water for days, the Admiral Superintendent explained that as “mini patrol boats powered by outboard engines” it hasn’t the capacity to stay for longer hours on sea.
As such, for safety concerns, it is not advisable to carry fuel on board.
He added that maintenance of the boats is not difficult as technicians abound everywhere with the requisite technical knowledge to handle any repairs.
“These are outboard engine boats and their technicians are all over the nation and we have them in abundance. Nigeria is gifted with talented technical personnel.
“However, in all Naval Commands, Forward Operations Base (FOBs), in their maintenance departments, technicians are inherent in those bases. The Navy can always give you support from the cradle to the very end. However, this contract doesn’t include the maintenance of the boats,” Admiral Orederu said.
Naval Dockyard Limited (NDL) a foremost shipbuilding and fabrication yard in Nigeria is committed to enhancing Nigeria’s strategic self-reliance in the building, maintenance, and repairs of Naval/Merchant vessels, and to developing expertise in the design/building of ships and crafts.