• Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

UK Royal Navy warship completes short mission to Nigeria; sailing to Ghana 

ByBassey Udo

Sep 16, 2023

After completing its brief official visit to Nigeria, the Royal Navy warship, HMS Trent, departed the country to continue its support to maritime security in the region.

The warship, which berthed in Lagos on Sunday, was in the country on a mission to help improve the nation’s defence capability. 

Also, the ship was in the country to assist the development of joint operational planning and intelligence sharing with the Nigerian Navy to combat insecurity within the regional maritime area of the country.

The visit to Nigeria, which was part of its regional mission to aid allies and partners in driving down illegal activities, including piracy and illicit trafficking.

The British High Commission in Abuja said explained that the visit would help deliver capacity training and support maritime security in the region by assisting  the Nigerian Navy develop critical capabilities to fight illegal crimes at sea, encompassing piracy, illicit trafficking and other illegal activities.

During the ship’s 5-day visit to  Nigeria, it was learnt tbat the Royal Marines boarding team trained closely with the Nigerian Navy on all aspects of vessel boarding, search and seizure, and firefighting demonstrations conducted by her Ship’s Company.

HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Langford said the visit helped his Ship’s Company strengthen its relationship with friends and partners in the Nigerian Navy.

“We can achieve so much more when we work together, and the integrated training achieved over the past few days will allow our two nations to work increasingly closely in improving maritime security within the Gulf of Guinea,” Langford said. 

Beside the training events, HMS Trent hosted a Maritime Domain Awareness Exchange Programme for the senior leadership members of the Nigerian Navy.

HMS Trent also supported a reception hosted in honour of the UK’s Nigerian friends, defence partners and members of the diplomatic community.

In his remarks, the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, said the UK government was pleased to see a new phase of cooperation between the UK’s Royal Navy and 42 Commando and the Nigerian Navy. 

He said this reiterated the UK’s commitment to collaborating with Nigeria’s armed forces to deal with illegal activities at sea in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Thanks to Commander Tim Langford and the entire crew of the Royal Navy warship, HMS Trent for their visit to Lagos, Nigeria. Good luck in your operations on combatting piracy, the illegal wildlife trade and maritime security more broadly,” Montgomery said. 

On UK-Nigeria Relations, the High Commissioner said it was in the UK shared interests and the broader partnership that the visit of HMS Trent fits. 

He described Nigeria as “an incredibly important partner for the UK”, therefore the government has a huge stake in the success of the country.

“We have a huge Nigerian diaspora in the UK. We have growing financial, educational and cultural links which are, undoubtedly, shared interests for Nigerian and British citizens alike.

“We have deep interests in Nigeria’s development and its economic prosperity. This country is already Africa’s biggest economy. We have big British companies invested here. We do a lot of trade – nearly 8 billion pounds a year. We see potential to do more too, especially given the recent big and bold economic reforms of Nigeria’s new government. 

“We have deep interests in Nigeria’s security and stability. We share concerns about combatting harms such as terrorism and serious crime, which cross both our borders. 

“So, it’s not surprising how much priority UK Ministers are putting on strengthening our bilateral partnership,” he said.

Since the Presidential transition in Nigeria, he said the UK’s Foreign Secretary visit in early August to felicitate with the country, apart from the recent meeting of the UK Minister for Armed Forces with the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff, amongst others, while two more Cabinet Ministers are being expected in Nigeria in the coming months. 

He said these engagements would lead in the coming year to a new and enhanced trade and investment partnership, an enhanced diplomatic dialogue in the increasingly competitive geopolitical world, and a refresh of the mutual Security and Defence Partnership between UK and Nigeria, which has been agreed in principle between countries two National Security Advisers.

Underlining the Security and Defence Partnership, the High Commissioner said there was no growth in opportunities and prosperity without better security and greater stability. 

The UK and Nigeria, he said were already work well together on sharing doctrine and insights into institutional development, collaborating on training and, of course, on maritime security.

He said Piracy and other illegal activity in the Gulf of Guinea were also critical areas for collaboration as they raised the risks and costs for shipping, while reducing the incentives to trade more and invest more in Nigeria.  

Montgomery urged the UK and Nigerian Navies to continue to work together in the two country’s common maritime interests and capabilities, insisting this was where the UK would rely on Nigerian Naval Operations. 

On the significance of HMS TRENT’s presence in the Gulf of Guinea over a four months’ tour, he said this would provide a great opportunity to work together and to learn from each other, adding that the joint sea exercises would help in gathering important insights to inform UK’s maritime efforts. 

Besides, he said the Royal Navy officers and sailors would learn more about operating effectively in the region, while benefiting from the expertise and the deep experience of the Nigerian partners, facing often unique challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, while the Nigerian Navy counterparts would wish to understand how UK sailors operate a vessel like the Royal Navy warship and how the Royal Marines launch from HMS Trent to conduct their interdiction operations. 

“A stable, secure and prosperous Nigeria,” he emphasised, “is a shared objective. It matters not just to Nigeria but to the UK also.  Policing the seas is a critical part of that. And our partnership… also seems more important now than ever,” he said. 

From Lagos, HMS Trent and 42 Commando would be heading to Ghana to continue to train Gulf of Guinea allies to bring stability to wider West Africa.

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