By Nehemiah Morris
Nigeria is Turkey’s top trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa with a trading volume of $754 million in 2020. For many years, Nigeria’s main imports from Turkey currently were clothes, food, engine, automobile parts, pharmaceuticals, and others, while exports include sesame seeds, raw and semi-processed leather, and rubber. In succeeding years Nigeria worked at expanding her trade and business with Turkey in different sectors of the economy, including mining, textiles, oil, and foods, Turkey aimed at increasing its investment in Nigeria, particularly in energy and construction.
In 2020 Nigeria exported $1.22 billion to Turkey. The main products exported were crude oil ($824M), petroleum gas ($282M), and other oily seeds ($102M). During the last 25 years, the exports of Nigeria to Turkey have increased at an annual rate of 22.7%, from $7.35 million in 1995 to $1.22 billion in 2020.
In 2020 Turkey exported $723 million to Nigeria. The main products exported to Nigeria were refined petroleum ($153M), Gypsum ($34.4M), and iron structures (28.8M). During the last 25 years, the exports of Turkey to Nigeria have increased at an annual rate of 17.4%, from $13.1 million in 1995 to $723 million in 2020. Recently Turkey has added defense products to its list of export to Nigeria.
Turkish Dearsan Shipyard has now laid the keel of the first of two high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (HE OPV 76) for the Nigerian Navy at Dearsan’s facilities in Istanbul.
The ceremonial keel-laying of the first of two 76-meter patrol vessels being designed and built by Dearsan Shipyard for the needs of the Nigerian Navy took place in Tuzla, Istanbul, in the presence of distinguished guests.
Among them were Nigerian Defense Minister Bashir Salihi Magashi who 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.
Last year, Dearsan Shipyard signed a deal with Nigeria to build two offshore patrol vessels for the Nigerian Navy. The keel-laying ceremony marked the beginning of the construction of the vessels, which are expected to be delivered within 37 months, according to the previous statements of the company officials.
BUSINESS LEAKS gathered that procurement of the HE OPV 76s represents an important milestone in the Nigerian Navy’s fleet renewal push toward implementing its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan. According to the statements of the Chief of the Nigerian Navy in October 2021, these OPVs will be capable of carrying out maritime interdiction operations, surveillance, and Special Forces operations, as well as providing naval fire support to land forces, which will help to sustain the Nigerian Navy’s operational engagements on an upward trajectory.
The HE 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 the 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 engines are four MAN 18VP185 diesel engines with a top speed of 28kt.
The main gun of the ship will be the 40-millimeter MARLIN gun of Leonardo and will be armed with the Aselsan’s 30-millimeter 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. The HE OPV-76s will carry 2 RHIBs for relevant operations.
Last year Dearsan announced on its LinkedIn page that it was to build 2 OPVs for the Nigerian Navy. Dearsan had stated on the social media:
“Our Shipyard will build 2 units of 76 m OPV (76 meter Offshore Patrol Vessel) within the scope of the contract signed with the Nigerian Navy. The OPV’s, which have been configured in line with the Nigerian Navy requirements, will be designed and build entirely within our shipyard’s capabilities and equipped with indigenous systems.”
The vessels are scheduled to be delivered to the Nigerian Navy within 37 months.
The ships will be outfitted with indigenous sensors and systems, according to the agreement, but the details of the systems and subcontractors have not been disclosed by the signatories.
Speaking on the occasion of the event, the Chief of the Nigerian Navy, Admiral Awwal Gambo, stated that the contract signing ceremony was another milestone achievement by the Nigerian Navy in the fleet renewal effort towards realizing the 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.
Admiral Gambo recalled that Nigerian Navy has in the last couple of months brought to bear its dominant status in the region by sustaining an aggressive presence in the nation’s maritime environment, leading to drastic reduction in acts of criminality in the domain. This development he added has been acknowledged by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its Global Piracy Report of 14 July 2021, indicating the lowest total of piracy and armed attacks against ships in 27 years.
The Admiral also emphasized the importance of these vessels to carry out maritime interdiction operations, surveillance and special forces operations as well as provide naval fire support to land forces, saying:
“The OPVs will also be capable of conducting search and rescue operations, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and anti-drug trafficking operations and disaster relief operations among others.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Dearsan, Mr Murat Gordi, pointed out that this project will further strengthen ties between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Turkey through the provision of added value in technological transfer and expertise.
DEARSAN Shipyard is regarded as one of the largest shipbuilders in Turkey. The company was established in 1980 and has been manufacturing naval boats since 2007. Dearsan delivered 16 Tuzla-class patrol boats to the Turkish Navy in a four-year period, as well as ten Serhet-class patrol boats to Turkmenistan, an improved version of the Tuzla-class.