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Nigerian Navy launches new Landing Ship Tank (LST) in Damen Shipyards, UAE, on Monday

  • New LST replaces NNS AMBE, NNS OFIOM

The Nigerian Navy would on Monday, June 7, 2021, launch its newly acquired Landing Ship Tank (LST 100) at Damen Shipyards Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This is a milestone because the last time Nigeria commissioned LSTs was in 1979, forty-one years ago.

The new vessel replaces the Type 502 LSTs – NNS Ambe and NNS Ofiom, built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Germany in 1978. However, the two amphibious vessels were decommissioned 10 years ago.

According to builders of the new LST, Damen, the vessel is designed for amphibious operations, transport and logistics. But its secondary tasks include maritime security operations, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, Search and Rescue (SAR), operations command, Mine Counter Measure (MCM) and hydrographic survey operations and support.

Specifically, the new LST is expected to play crucial roles in the security of Nigeria’s maritime environment especially in the protection of maritime resources and the preservation of law and order at sea.

It is expected to contribute significantly to the promotion of global maritime commerce and maritime power projection in Nigerian Maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea at large.

The new vessel, 1300 ton LST 100, is 100 metres long with maximum speed of 16 knots and range at 15 knots of 4,000 nautical miles and an endurance 15 days.

The bow ramp in the LST allows for the direct transfer to and from beaches and is rated to 70 tonnes. The internal ramp is rated at 30 tonnes and the stern ramp 70 tonnes.

The vessel can carry two embarked LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), a helicopter/UAV on the flight deck, unmanned undersea vehicles and miscellaneous cargo with a 25 ton deck crane. Crew is 18, but 27 additional personnel can be accommodated or 235 troops.

The construction of the LST 100 began with a keel-laying ceremony at Damen Shipyards, Sharjah on 9th December. Former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, laid the keel.

The NNS Ambe,and NNS Ofiom, being replaced by the new LST, were acquired by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1978 as operational Amphibious warship used for lifting troops and equipment.

And they lived up to expectations, being LST of pride as they sea-lifted a battalion of Nigerian Army and their equipment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1982.

They projected Nigeria as a surprising emerging black regional power.

Generally, each of the amphibious vessels had the capacity to lift a battalion of 600 soldiers and their equipment at once.

NNS Ambe, played a significant roles in the 1990s especially during the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

During the afternoon of 24 August 1990, Nigeria’s NNS Ambe (LST 1123) and Ghana’s MV Tano River, loaded with troops and equipment of the five-nation Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) entered the port of Monrovia, emptying their passengers and wares.

NNS Ambe, along with some merchant vessels, also participated in sea-lifting the over 72,000 refugees from Liberia to Nigeria.

The power projection role of Ambe was on show on 02 December 1997,when Sierra Leone’s then military junta accused Nigeria of moving an amphibious Landing Ship Tank and two support vessels into Sierra Leone’s territorial waters to intimidate the regime into abdicating.

NNS Ambe and the two support ships had anchored 30 nautical miles off the Sierra Leonean coast before pulling back into international waters.

The LST comes into service to augment Nigeria’s quest to have a Blue Navy.

In the last six years, it has acquired, among others, two Offshore Patrol Vessels (opvS) – NNS Centenary and NNS Unity from China, a second locally built Seaward Defence Boat (NNS Karaduwa), six OCEA patrol boats (NNS Nguru, Shiroro, Ekulu, Ose, Gongola and Calabar) and more than 200 riverine patrol boats.

The latest entrant into the Nigerian Navy is the new hydrographic research vessel, NNS LANA, delivered on 15 April, 2021 by the French Shipyard, OCEA.

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