Turkish DEARSAN Shipyard officially started the construction of two OPV-76 Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Nigerian Navy with a keel laying ceremony held on September 16, 2022. The OPVs are being constructed as part of a contract signed between Dearsan and the Nigerian Navy in 2021.
The keel laying was marked by a ceremony held at the shipyard on 16 September. Nigerian Defense Minister Bashir Salihi Magashi was the chief guest at the event, Turkish Navy Commander Admiral Ercument Tatlioglu, Turkish Deputy Defense Minister Muhsin Dere, Nigerian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu GAMBO, and Dearsan Shipyard President attended the ceremony.
In August last year, the Nigerian Navy (NN) announced its intention to procure two new offshore patrol vessels (OPV) after receiving President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval. Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral AZ Gambo mention this at the dinner in honour of the Nigerian Navy graduates of the National Defence College course 29.
The two new OPVs will further enhance Nigeria’s naval capacity currently served by two P-18N OPVS, two Hamilton-class patrol cutters, a number of fast patrol missile boats, and several coastal patrol vessels.
The high endurance offshore patrol vessels are configured in line with the Nigerian Navy requirements, which are designed and built entirely in the shipyard’s facilities and will be equipped with modern systems, says Admiral AZ Gambo.
“The vessels will be deployed to project naval power within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), contribute significantly to enhancing global maritime commerce, deterring oil theft and ensuring secure seas for exploration and exploitation of Nigeria’s maritime and hydrocarbon resources.”
The high endurance offshore patrol vessel OPV -76 has an overall length of 76.90 meters, a beam of 11.90 meters and a displacement of 1,100 tons, according to the video released by the company. The vessel will be operated by 47 personnel and have a range of 2500 nautical miles at an economical speed. HE OPV 76 will be able to stay at sea for 16 days. The ship has a flight deck that can house a single helicopter but no hangar.
The main gun of the ship will be the 40-millimetre MARLIN gun of Leonardo and will be armed with the Aselsan’s 30-millimetre SMASH at the stern of the ship. The ship will also be equipped with two Aselsan 12.7 mm RWS STAMP.
The Turkish company HAVELSAN will supply the ADVENT combat management system for the new OPVs, and the operator consoles will be supplied by another Turkish company, YALTES. The sensor suit of the new OPVs consists of the 2D surface search radar from the Italian company GEM Elettronica and the fire control system EO.
In addition, the vessels will be equipped with HAVELSAN ADVENT Combat Management System (CMS), HAVELSAN Ship Data Distribution System (SDDS), two operator consoles manufactured by YALTES (for ADVENT SYS), YALTESIntegrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Italian GEM Elettronica product 2D radar (with surface and air surveillance capability), and GEM Elettronica product electro-optical fire control system.
OPV-76 ships will be fitted with four MAN product diesel engines (18VP185), and it is stated that the vessels can reach a maximum speed of 28 knots. Constructed in line with the Türk Loydu Ship Classification rules, the hulls of OPV-76s will be made of steel sheets, and marine aluminium (Sealium) will be used in the ship superstructure. The operational range of the ships is stated as 2.500nm (nautical miles). A contract was signed with HeliPLAT Co.Ltd. for the certification engineering, testing, and HAT/SAT activities of the helicopter platform on the OPV-76 ships.
The high endurance offshore patrol vessels OPV-76s will carry 2 RHIBs for interdiction operations.
It is uncertain if the NN will still proceed with the procurement of a general-purpose frigate to replace the former naval flagship Nigerian Navy Ship NNS ARADU. However, each OPV-76 warship will cost US$80 Million, and the first payment/prepayment of US$35 Million under the Project was made in June 2022. The ships are planned to be delivered within a 37-month calendar.