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Nigerian Navy

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Brief History

The Nigerian Navy owes its origin to the Nigerian Marine. Formed in 1914 after the amalgamation of the then Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria, the Nigerian Marine as it became known after 1914 was a quasi-military organization. Its origin lay with the Lagos Marines, which was first established in 1887 by the British Colonial Government. This Force later expanded to become the Southern Nigerian Marine in 1893. A Northern Nigeria equivalent of the same name was formed in 1900. The 2 Marines were merged in 1914 after Nigeria came under a single colonial administration. The responsibility of the Marine included administration of the ports and harbours, dredging of channels, bouyage and lighting. It also operated ferry services, touring launches and other small craft that plied the various creeks and other inland waterways. The Royal Navy provided the necessary military security as part of its overall military defence of the British Empire . Though it performed mostly coast guard functions, the Nigerian Marine saw action in the First World War as part of the British military offensive against German held Cameroon. This organization remained the only maritime outfit in Nigeria until 1955 when the British colonial authorities carried out a major reorganisation of Nigeria's maritime administration in order to improve efficiency. This re-organisation led to the establishment of 3 new organizations to undertake the various functions hitherto carried out by the Marine Department.

The first of these 3 new organizations was the Nigerian Ports Authority, which was charged with the running of ports and ensuring safe navigation. The second organisation was the Inland Waterways Department, which took over the running of ferries and touring launches. The third organisation was the Nigerian Naval Force, made up mostly of reserve Royal Navy officers and ex-Service personnel who were transferred to the Nigerian Ports Authority from the defunct Nigerian Marine. These officers and men never liked the transfer and pressed the Colonial Authorities to re-constitute them as the nucleus of a future Nigerian Navy. Under pressure from them, the Nigerian Naval Force was established on 1 June 1956 as a nucleus of a future Navy. Its primary responsibility was to train the necessary manpower and set up the appropriate infrastructure that will be utilized by the planned Navy. The first basic training establishment to train manpower for the future Navy - the HMNS QUORRA was started on 1 November 1957 with 60 junior ratings who underwent a 6 month basic seamanship course.

On 1 May 1958, a colonial ordinance formally brought the Nigerian Naval Force under the Naval Disciplinary Act. This act essentially brought the officers and men of the Nigerian Naval Force under the disciplinary procedures and legal regimes applicable to the Royal Navy.

In July 1959, the Nigerian Naval Force was transformed into a full fledged Navy when Queen Elizabeth granted permission for the Force to use the title ‘Royal Nigerian Navy’. The title was changed to the ‘Nigerian Navy’ in 1963 after Nigeria became a republic. The constitutional task of the Navy was expanded in 1964 after the repeal of the 1958 Ordinance. The new law known as the Navy Act of 1964 for the first time tasked the Navy with the military responsibility of “naval defence of Nigeria.” Other tasks assigned the Navy by the 1964 Act were essentially coast guard duties namely: assisting in enforcement of Customs laws, making of hydrographic surveys and training of officers and men in naval duties.

These tasks were essentially routine functions of any Navy. Consequently, the naval leadership began to mount pressure on the political leadership to re-define the constitutional role of the Navy. In 1993, this pressure yielded the desired result and under a new law; the Armed Forces Decree 105 now known as the Armed Forces Act, was incorporated as part of the 1999 Constitution. The Navy was given expanded military and constabulary roles especially in the oil and gas sectors of the Nigerian maritime economy.


"In consonance with our national aspiration, the strategic endstate is the attainment of a safe, secure and enabling maritime environment for socioeconomic growth and national development in furtherance of the National Transformation Agenda within the context of Vision 20:20:20."

"Within the purview of the strategic endstate and the Armed Forces Transformation process, my vision is to emplace a robust and combat ready Navy that is capable of effectively combating the security challenges in Nigeria's maritime domain including the Gulf of Guinea for Nigeria's economic prosperity and national development."

"The emplacement of a robust and combat ready fleet is considered a fundamental pivot for the NN to achieve its mission, which is to discharge its constitutional roles and assigned tasks in a professional and efficient manner, consistent with global best practices for the defence and protection of Nigeria's territorial integrity."


The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim



The Naval Headquarters (NHQ)

The Naval Headquarters (NHQ) is the administrative and policy-making organ of the Nigerian Navy. At the head is the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) who exercises full command of the NN. To effect full command of the NN, the CNS has 7 staff branches in addition to the Office of the Navy Secretary. The staff branches are: Policy and Plans, Training and Operations, Administration, Naval Engineering, Logistics, Accounts & Budget, Standard and Evaluation. These branches are headed by Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) of flag rank.

Directly under the Naval Headquarters (NHQ) are 3 operational commands (Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command and Central Naval Command) one training and one logistics command and several autonomous units.




The Western Naval Command

The Western Naval Command HQ is located at Apapa in Lagos. It covers the sea and coastal areas from the Nigeria/Benin border at Long 002o 49’ E to Long 006o E in Delta State from the Nigerian coastline to the limit of the nation’s EEZ. The Command has the following units under its jurisdiction:

  1. Headquarters Western Naval Command
  2. Western Fleet at Apapa.
  3. NNS BEECROFT, an operations base at Apapa.
  4. NNS LUGARD, an operations base at Lokoja.
  5. Naval Air Station, Ojo, Lagos.
  6. Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital,Ojo, Lagos.
  7. Fleet Support Group (West) at Apapa.
  8. NNS WEY, a maintenance unit at Navy Town, Ojo.
  9. Forward Operating Bases (FOB) IGBOKODA and ESCRAVOS in Ondo and Delta States respectively.
  10. Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Abeokuta.
  11. Nigerian Navy Hospital Warri.
  12. Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ojo.

The Eastern Naval Command

The Eastern Naval Command (ENC) is the second operations command of the NN and it covers the sea area from Long 006o E in Delta State to the Nigeria/Cameroon border at Long 008o 30’ E, and from the Nigerian coastline to the limit of the nation’s EEZ. The headquarters is at Calabar. The Command has the following units under its jurisdiction:

  1. NNS VICTORY, an operations base at Calabar.
  2. NNS PATHFINDER, an operations base at Port Harcourt.
  3. NNS JUBILEE, an operations base at Ikot Abasi.
  4. Eastern Fleet at Calabar.
  5. FOBs BONNY,EGUWEMA and IBAKA in Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States respectively.
  6. Fleet Support Group(East) at Calabar.
  7. Navy Hospitals at Calabar and Port Harcourt.
  8. Nigerian Navy Secondary Schools at Calabar and Port Harcourt.

Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC)

The main functions of the Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) are the coordination and harmonization of training doctrines and standards for all local training in the NN as evolved by the NHQ. The Command is headed by the FOC NAVTRAC, who is assisted by 9 PSOs namely: the CSO, the Command Technical Training Officer (CTTO), Command Logistic Training Officer (CLTO) and Command Medical Training Officer (CMTO). Others are the Command Academic Training Officer (CATO), CABO, CAO, CINTO and CPM. The units under NAVTRAC are:

  1. Sea Training Unit at Victoria Island, Lagos. It is responsible for Basic Operations Sea Training, Safety Operations Sea Training, and Consolidated Operations Sea Training of all NN ships when assigned. It also conducts harbour and ship acceptance trials of vessels after major refits.
  2. NNS QUORRA at Apapa, which caters for various forms of seamen professional courses for officers and ratings.
  3. Nigerian Navy Engineering College (NNEC) Sapele, which caters for the technical training of all NN technical personnel.
  4. The Nigerian Navy Finance and Logistic School (NNFLS) at Owerrinta.
  5. Nigerian Naval College ONURA and the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School (NNBTS), which are co-located at Onne, Port Harcourt. The 2 establishments conduct basic training for officers and ratings respectively.
  6. There are other professional schools, which include; the Medical Staff Training School, Offa in Kwara State, the NN School of Music at Otta and the Hydrographic School at Port Harcourt. Others are the Naval Provost and Regulating School, the Nigerian Navy Intelligence School and the Physical Training School all at Apapa, Lagos.


The Logistics Command

The Logistics Command is equally commanded by a FOC of Rear Admiral rank. The permanent HQ of the Command is at Oghara, Delta State. However, the Nigerian Navy Order establishing the Logistics Command has been released and the command has since started opration. The Order stipulates the organization and responsibilities of the Command.

The autonomous units

The autonomous units are those units, which require prudent management and high-level control that need not be duplicated or represented at the lower hierarchy. Though small in outfit, they report directly to the CNS. Prominent among the autonomous units is the Nigerian Naval Dockyard, located in Victoria Island, Lagos. Hitherto, third line maintenance was carried out either in a foreign dockyard or private ones in Nigeria, at very high cost. The Naval Dockyard in Lagos, which was commissioned on 27 August 1990, now takes care of this high level maintenance such as major overhaul of ships engines, additions and alterations, and modification of designs. The Naval Shipyard in Port Harcourt was also acquired in 1990 from Messrs Witt and Bush. Smaller ships of the NN and merchant ships are repaired there. The shipyard has built and delivered some tugboats and barges to some private organizations.

The NN Air Arm

The 101 Squadron was established in 1985, based at Navytown near Ojo and operated AgustaWestland Lynx helicopters for anti-submarine warfare and SAR operations from the Meko class frigate. For quite some time, the Squadron operates Agusta 109 Helicopters from Warri Naval Base on anti-smuggling and oil protection duties.


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