Turkish Dearsan Shipyard has successfully launched the first 76m Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Nigerian Navy on October 26, 2023. This launch marks a major step forward in enhancing Nigeria’s maritime defence and security capabilities.
The event was graced by the presence of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, underscoring the importance of this milestone for Nigeria’s naval operations.
The journey to this achievement began in August 2021 when the Nigerian Navy expressed its intention to procure two new offshore patrol vessels. This move received approval from former President Muhammadu Buhari, setting the stage for the construction of these essential vessels. Dearsan Shipyard began constructing the vessel on September 16, 2022, and it has now come to fruition with the successful launch.
The OPV 76 vessel follows a modular design, offering versatility for a range of maritime operations. In peacetime, it will be deployed for offshore patrol duties, ensuring maritime security and surveillance. However, the vessel’s design also allows it to be swiftly equipped with sensors and weapons, transforming it into a formidable force for warfare and maritime defense purposes. This adaptability is achieved at a cost-effective price, a crucial factor for the Nigerian Navy.
The OPV 76 vessels have been tailored to meet the specific requirements of the Nigerian Navy, designed and constructed entirely within the facilities of the Dearsan Shipyard. These vessels will be equipped with modern systems to ensure optimal performance. A transfer of technology agreement between Dearsan and Nigeria was also signed.
These Turkish-built OPV 76 vessels are poised to significantly enhance Nigeria’s naval capacity. The country’s naval assets include two P-18N OPVs, two Hamilton-class patrol cutters, fast patrol missile boats, and inshore patrol vessels. The OPV 76 vessels will expand the capabilities of the Nigerian Navy, enabling operations such as maritime interdiction, surveillance, special forces missions, naval fire support for land forces, search and rescue, anti-piracy operations, anti-smuggling efforts, counter-drug trafficking operations, and disaster relief missions, among others.
Vice Admiral Gambo Zubairu, the former Chief of Naval Staff, emphasized the importance of these vessels in projecting naval power within the Gulf of Guinea, enhancing global maritime commerce, deterring oil theft, and ensuring secure seas for the exploration and exploitation of Nigeria’s maritime and hydrocarbon resources.
The OPV 76 vessels are notable for their impressive specifications. They have a length of 76.8 meters, a beam of 11 meters, and a draft of 2.9 meters. The crew consists of 43 sailors, and the steel-hulled vessels displace 1,100 tons. These vessels are powered by four MAN 18VP185 diesel engines, which enable a maximum speed of 28 knots and a range of 3,000 nautical miles. The aft deck of the OPV 76 vessels can accommodate a medium-size helicopter.
The armament on board is robust, featuring an OTO Marlin 40 (40mm) main gun, ASELSAN 30 mm MUHAFIZ Remote Controlled Stabilized Naval Gun and 12.7 mm STAMP RCWS.
Earlier, it was expected to have been armed with a 76mm Leonardo Super Rapid gun, a 40mm Leonardo light naval gun, two 12.7mm stabilized automatic machine guns, two 12.7mm manually operated machine guns, and two MBDA SIMBAD-RC surface-to-air missile systems. To enhance naval air defense capabilities, the Nigerian Navy was also expected to acquire 40 MBDA’s SIMBAD-RC air defense systems, which can fire the Mistral short-range anti-air missiles. However, this is not the case.
Collaboration with Turkish companies is pivotal for the success of these vessels. HAVELSAN will provide the ADVENT combat management system for the OPVs, while the operator consoles will be supplied by another Turkish firm, YALTES. The sensor suite of the new OPVs will feature a 2D surface search radar from the Italian company GEM Elettronica and the fire control system EO.
Beyond the 76 OPV, a contract has also been signed between Dearsan shipyard and the Nigerian Navy to Refit and Remodel the historically important NNS ARADU Frigate (F89), the Flagship of the Nigerian Navy.
The refit and remodeling project of the MEKO 360 class NNS ARADU Frigate, which was built by the German Blohm & Voss Shipyard and commissioned in 1982, has a length of 125 meters and a displacement of 3500 tons, will be carried out at Dearsan’s shipyard in Tuzla, İstanbul.
Within the scope of the project; systems, equipment and devices that are out of use due to age and obsolescence will be repaired or renewed with equivalent modern systems and the frigate will be brought to modern-day standards.
Dearsan will also deliver a 57-meter Tuzla patrol boat to the Nigerian Navy. The Nigerian Navy will be the fourth user of the 57-meter Patrol Boat after the Turkish Naval Forces, Turkmenistan Navy and Turkmenistan Coast Guard Command.