Why UK  Royal Navy  Warship  Docks In Lagos Coastal City  Twice In Two Years

By Stephen Ubanna

Barely two years after the United Kingdom , UK, Royal Navy ,and the Nigerian Navy, under the close watch of the then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral  Awwal Zubairu Gambo, now retired  entered into a  working agreement to partner in their operations , the Royal Navy had  docked its  HMS  TRENTs warship, in Lagos  for the second year running to continue from  what it had  started in 2021.

Ben  Llewellyn, the then British High Commissioner in Lagos,  had said that the Royal Navy which is  working in partnership with  the  Nigerian Armed Forces, particular, the Nigerian Nay,    has no ulterior motive in deploying the River – class offshore Royal Navy  patrol vessel  into the West African country   but only  involved in engagements  that would ‘’ support trade,  investment , economic growth  and the nation’s  defence objectives’’.

The Nigeria government had spent $195 million to procure maritime security assets for the Deep Blue Project which contract was   said to have been won by HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, an Israeli firm in 2017.

 Of the security equipments that was supplied by the company between 2020 and now, the Nigerian Navy alone operates and maintains 16 Armoured Vehicles, 17 Fast interception Boats and two Special Mission Vessels while the Nigerian Airforce NAF oversees the operations and maintenance of the three special helicopters, two Special Mission air crafts and four unmanned Aerial vehicles. The two security agencies personnel have been operating the security assets over the last three but they still needed the expertise to effectively manage it.      

 Jonny Baxter, who had taken over from Llwellyn , as the  UK  Deputy High Commissioner   in Lagos,  statement  speaks volume. The UK,  Deputy High Commissioner, had said that  the HMS TRENTs Patrol warship which had  departed  Gibraltar carrying  an expert  boarding team  of the British  Royal Marines  and a Puma surveillance drone  which had   arrived in Lagos , on October 23, 2023   is ’’to support  Nigeria and other West and Central  African allies  to develop capability to fight  illegal  crimes  at the respective countries  waters and at the  sea  and to ensure that they can play effective  role  in bringing  stability  to the regions.

He noted that with around six billion UK, pound Sterling goods passing through the Gulf of Guinea region, the Royal Navy could no Longer sit -by and watch the Nigerian Navy tackle the International criminal elements alone.

The Envoy may have alluded to this when he disclosed that that ‘’the Royal Navy has a long history of engagement with the two subregions in the African Continent   and an enduring partnership with the Nigerian Armed forces’’.

 Given an insider information on the deployment of the UK warship to Nigeria, Baxter had said that ‘’it demonstrates   how truly Global Britain is stepping up on the world stage to tackle international security challenges to protect ocean going vessels and their Crew members’’.

He had declared that  the deployment of the HMS TRENTS to Nigeria and which would also visit the  other West and Central African allies  will go a long way to contribute   to a wider  international effort  by UK and other friends of the  of the Gulf of Guinea , which had  supported  in one or the other to implement  the regional  maritime security frameworks and thus bringing stability to the region   that has seen international  shipping disrupted, seafarers’ lives  threatened  and damage caused to local economies’’.  

He may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said that ‘’the country is an important and value defence partner for the UK and the entire West African subregion, noting that the two countries face many  shared  threats. This may have informed why the UK government are keen ‘’to work with Nigeria  to defeat  theses criminal activities in the region   and to help improve maritime security   in the Gulf of Guinea’’. 

 The UK patrol vessel, according to the Deputy High Commissioner would participate in  the much- talked  about  ‘’French-led  multi-national  Exercise  Grand African  Nemo’’, believed would bring together   all international partners  in the  two regions ‘’to  tackle piracy,  sea robbery  and other criminal activities in order to complete its assignment.

     Tim Langford, the Commander of the HMS TRENTs warship  had said that  his team  had really looked forward to the opportunity   to work with their Nigerian  Naval Counterparts  and build  on the relationships  that had been established  when the patrol ship first visited  Lagos in  2021.

The Commander had confirmed that the Crews of the ship would be  ‘’engaged in capacity and efficiency building  activities  in the area of fighting    skills,  prisoner handling, evidence exploitation, equipment  and weapon capabilities   handling as  well as  vessel boarding search  and seizure’’. It was not surprising why he had aid that ‘’it is an honour for the same HMS TRENT to return   to Nigeria on a three month-long deployment to the Nigerian waters  and the Gulf of Guinea   for security patrols’’ .  

Informed sources told The Value News that the UK, warship in Nigeria is one of the five Royal Navy Patrol vessels that have been deployed around the world and in areas, described of trade importance to the former colonial powers’’.

Chinese Warship that Docked In Lagos Last July

 Recall that last July, the Asian country of China, warship had docked in Nigeria as part of the growing naval cooperation between the two trading nations.   China, going by reports from the Federal ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, at present  ‘’is a major investor  in infrastructural facilities  in Nigeria, Iand  even in the recently   Commissioned $1.5 billion  Lagos Lekki Deep Sea port’’, that  was said to have been equipped with the state of the art technology , such as biometric scanners and facial recognition systems.

 The Lekki Deep seaport had been described as a home of heavy industries by maritime analysts. The creation of a Customs Command and the deployment of an Area Controller to the Command to oversee its operations of the port and collect the necessary excise duties and other statutory charges  from port users by Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, the Customs  acting Comptroller General, clearly shows the importance attached to the deep seaport  as a revenue spinner for the government .

Many believe that Bashir Jamoh,OFR, Director General, NIMASA, three-point agenda of Maritime Security, Maritime Safety and Ship Development on assumption of duties on March 10, 2020, and which he was said to have  pursued vigorously to implement over the last three years and qqa which had reduced piracy in Nigerians and the Gulf of Guinea over the last years may have attracted the international attention.

The NIMASA Chief Executive Officer may have intensified the agency counter-piracy efforts because the Gulf of Guinea is a major global shipping route stretching over 5,700 Kilometres from Nigeria, Senegal Cameroun to  Angola  and which has long  been  at risk  from piracy   with the  Nigerian gangs  carrying out   most of the   attacks   on the foreign ocean going vessels plying the sea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *