CAPE TOWN, Jan 30- The Nigerian Navy’s newest ship, the large offshore patrol frigate NNS Centenary, has arrived at the Simon’s Town Naval Base in Cape Town on its maiden delivery voyage from China to Nigeria.
The Centenary is the first patrol ship China has exported to West Africa. In April 2012, Nigeria signed a contract with China to build two offshore patrol vessels with the lead ship to be built in Wuhan, China, beginning in October 2012, and the second unit expected to be partially built in Nigeria.
The vessels’ main missions will include coastal and offshore patrols, protecting the country’s exclusive economic zones, carrying out search and rescue mission, preventing marine pollution and piracy.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has seen an increase in piracy cases in the Gulf of Guinea in recent years.
The country has 420 nautical miles of coastline and the Navy has ensured that at least three warships are constantly at sea at all times to cover the major choke points along the coastline where maritime shipping and fishing activities are high.
In early 2014, a Nigerian navy official put the country’s economic loss caused by piracy and smuggling at 1.5 billion US dollars.