UKHMS Ocean visits Nigeria on 50th anniversary of independence

Coin­cid­ing with Nigeria’s 50th anniver­sary of inde­pen­dence HMS Ocean has vis­it­ed the coun­try to offer train­ing and diplo­mat­ic ser­vices.

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A Roy­al Navy Lynx heli­copter flies over HMS Ocean along­side in the main port of Lagos
Source: LA(Phot) Guy Pool, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The Roy­al Navy amphibi­ous war­fare heli­copter car­ri­er host­ed the UK’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, His Roy­al High­ness The Duke of Glouces­ter, and over 400 Niger­ian senior offi­cials at an onboard recep­tion as part of the cel­e­bra­tions and par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Niger­ian Navy Fleet Review which was con­duct­ed by the Niger­ian Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan.

Mean­while, Ocean’s Roy­al Marines from 539 Assault Squadron and her embarked heli­copter force par­tic­i­pat­ed in the han­dover of the Joint Mar­itime Secu­ri­ty Train­ing Cen­tre in Lagos from British men­tor­ship to the Niger­ian Armed Forces. The cen­tre­piece was a joint demon­stra­tion involv­ing both Niger­ian sailors and the Roy­al Marines.

The ship’s com­pa­ny also took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to reach out to the local com­mu­ni­ty in Aje­gun­le, an area par­tic­u­lar­ly struck by pover­ty.

A group from the ‘Ajegunle.org’ project, which helps young peo­ple gain skills in infor­ma­tion technology/telecommunications, were invit­ed onboard HMS Ocean to meet and speak with the sailors about how they had learned their own skills and achieved careers in the Roy­al Navy.

25 Ocean sailors, under the direc­tion of the ship’s chap­lain, Rev­erend Ron Mar­tin, made a jour­ney out to two pri­ma­ry schools in Aje­gun­le where they helped repaint some of the build­ings and repair doors and win­dows. This work was fol­lowed by a foot­ball game between the school­child­ren and sailors, who hand­ed out Eng­land foot­ball shirts to the chil­dren as prizes.

Rev­erend Mar­tin com­ment­ed:

“Any­thing we can do to help make even a small improve­ment to the lives of these chil­dren is worth it; this is one of the more reward­ing aspects of the many things we do.”

Onboard, 60 Niger­ian Navy offi­cer cadets from the West­ern Naval Acad­e­my joined their Roy­al Navy coun­ter­parts for a day of fire­fight­ing, nav­i­ga­tion, first aid and main­te­nance train­ing. This was a con­tin­u­a­tion of the Africa Part­ner­ship Sta­tion pro­gramme which aims to devel­op the capac­i­ty of mar­itime forces in the West Africa region to improve mar­itime safe­ty and secu­ri­ty.

20 Niger­ian Navy sailors joined Ocean for train­ing on her pas­sage from Brazil as part of this scheme. A fur­ther 40 naval per­son­nel from Sier­ra Leone, Benin and Togo have embarked for the next leg of Ocean’s deploy­ment in the Gulf of Guinea, and an addi­tion­al con­tin­gent of 18 offi­cers and rat­ings from Ghana will join the ship for 24 hours on the way.

As HMS Ocean depart­ed Lagos at the end of an extreme­ly packed and var­ied four days, her Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Cap­tain Kei­th Blount, was extreme­ly pos­i­tive about the vis­it and the role of the ship in the region:

“The tim­ing of this vis­it clear­ly demon­strates the UK’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to Nige­ria. The ship was proud to cel­e­brate Nigeria’s 50th anniver­sary of inde­pen­dence in style and in the com­pa­ny of His Roy­al High­ness The Duke of Glouces­ter.

“We have also con­duct­ed impor­tant mil­i­tary busi­ness and have par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed work­ing with the Africa Part­ner­ship Sta­tion pro­gramme. We have been delight­ed to show our Niger­ian vis­i­tors this extreme­ly ver­sa­tile war­ship and how we do our busi­ness.”

On leav­ing Nige­ria HMS Ocean will be con­duct­ing mar­itime secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions with­in the Gulf of Guinea and is expect­ed to return to the UK lat­er this year.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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