Turkish Dearsan Shipyard laid the keel of the first of two high-endurance offshore patrol vessels (HE OPV 76) for the Nigerian Navy during a ceremony held at Dearsan’s facilities in Istanbul on September 16, 2022.
Turkey is becoming an increasingly capable and respected arms supplier and shipbuilder.
With a population of over 218 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous in the world.
The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard has an eclectic fleet sourced from the US, Europe, China, and Israel, along with some locally built small craft. They currently operates two of the former USCG 378 foot high endurance cutters which are their largest fully operational ships. Reportedly they also have four former USCG 180 foot buoy tenders and 15 USCG type “Defender class” Response Boat, Small.
Nigeria’s territorial sea and EEZ is relatiely small, less than 2% that of the US, but their marine environment is complex with a history of piracy and smuggling, with many countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea complicating jurisdiction.
The New OPVs:
We talked about these ships earlier.
There have been some, mostly minor changes in the specs:
- Length: 76.9 meters (252′)
- Beam: 11.9 meters (39′)
- Displacement: 1100 tons
- Armament: Leonardo 40mm MARLIN gun forward, Aselsan 30mm SMASH aft, and two Aselsan 12.7 mm RWS STAMP
- Power: =>16,000 HP (12,000 kW, from my own calculations)
- Range: 2500 nautical miles
- Speed: 28 knots
- Crew: 47
The reported displacement is likely to be light displacement since, these ships are considerably larger than the 1,127 ton full load Reliance class and nearly as large as the 1,800 ton Bear class. Given their range, they don’t carry a lot of fuel, so I would expect about 1,500 tons full load.
The armament is lighter than initially reported (earlier reports indicated 76mm + 40mm + MBDA Simbad RC systems for Mistral short range surface to air missiles). The electronics also appear to have been simplified. This was probably a cost saving measure, but the ships remain better armed than most OPVs of comparable size, in that they have two medium caliber guns rather than just one, probably a good idea. The provision for at least three, probably four, electro optic devices mounted on the weapon stations mean they are particularly well provided for in this respect.
We see an illustration of what the stern of the ship looks like. No hangar is provided.
There might be an issue with the boat handling arrangement. Boats are visible under the flight deck, but neither davits nor stern ramps are really visible. Looks like stanchions and the centerline support at the transom preclude a single centerline boat launch ramp like the NSCs have.
Twin launch ramps also appear unlikely. There no visible ramp doors, and the RHIBs we can see do not appear to be on an incline.
Arms might extend outward from under the flight deck to act as davits. If that is the case, with the boats so far aft of the center of pitch, there may be difficulties when the ship is pitching. That may require them to seek a heading that will minimize pitch, just as cutters with stern ramps do, when the boat returns to the cutter, but with the boats being suspended during launch and recovery, they would also want to minimize roll.