In what appears to be a move to heighten military presence in the Niger Delta, The Flag Officer Commanding,(FOC), Central Naval Command, (CNC), Rear Adm. Bello Al-Hassan, Thursday announced that the command would commence riverine and sea exercises, code-named “Octopusgrip,’’ in Bayelsa and Delta.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Army had on October 13, 2017, launched its ongoing 'Operation Crocodile Smile II' scheduled to last for the next one month.
Al-Hassan said seven ships and 37 riverine boats would be involved in the operation of the high sea exercise.
Al-Hassan, who said these while addressing a news conference in Yenagoa, said that the exercise was expected to last from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.
The FOC said the command was tasked with the responsibility of security of the waterways by providing adequate security within the command’s area of responsibility.
He said the command in Jan. launched “Operation Rivers Sweep.’’
“So far, the operation has recorded huge success in reducing crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and other maritime crimes."
“Between May and Sept. this year, the command seized and destroyed about 870,000 MT of illegally refined crude oil."
“Also, over 400 illegal refineries were destroyed, including 85 boats used by oil thieves,’’ he said.
The flag officer said the aim of the planned exercise was also to assess the operational readiness of CNC fleet and to test the practical skills of its personnel in tackling maritime threats.
He said the Navy was providing an environment that would enable sustenance of economic activities, including oil and gas production, the safety of shipping and other activities at sea.