Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Unity, which the regional super-power deployed to The Gambia as part of Operation Restore Democracy in ousting former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, has returned.
The ship arrived at the Naval Dockyard Limited yesterday after its first major task since it was inaugurated into the naval fleet last December by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although Jammeh relinquished power to his successor, Adama Barrow, at the time the warship entered the Gambian waters through Dakar in Senegal, it was gathered that NNS Unity remained in the area for several days in readiness to battle likely resistance from Jammeh’s forces.
It was learnt that the ship was armed and ready for war but did not shoot a bullet throughout its stay in the troubled country.
Receiving the ship and its crew, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, expressed joy that it returned home with its crew hale and hearty.
Represented by the Chief of Logistics, Rear Admiral Tariworio Dick, the CNS hailed them for participating in a joint sea patrol with Ghanaian Navy.
He said the experiences the crew gained would enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea (GOG).
Ibas said: “The mission you went for was very important to the Navy and the nation. The ship was sailed to Dakar to position and join other West African countries for any possible operation to ensure peace in The Gambia.
“We believe that the presence of the ship in Dakar contributed to the surrendering of the former administration in The Gambia. The vessel stayed back and patrolled for some time to ensure there was peace and stability before it was called up. Its sailing to join other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forces contributed to achieving peace and stability.
“On its return to the country, the vessel made a port call in Ghana and had a joint exercise with Ghanaian Navy to enhancing security in the GOG.
“The trip was successful, from naval perspective. Its positioning in Dakar contributed to security calculations that would have compelled the situation in The Gambia to change.”
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Fergusson Bobai said the ship performed three major roles of Navy: military, policing and diplomatic.
Bobai, who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer (CSO) WNC, Rear Admiral Thaddeus Udofia, noted that the ship was initially sailed for training purposes but later mandated to join other forces in Dakar for Operation Restore Democracy.
He added: “However, diplomatic negotiations dominated the whole affair. That was why no single shot was fired in the course of the operation.
“We are poised to ensure safety in the GOG. NNS Unity is back in its base in Lagos and ready to execute other directives.”