1. Effective maintenance of ships is dependent
on 3 fundamental variables; availability of skilled manpower,
functional and reliable infrastructure and timely supply of
spare parts. Of these 3, manpower is the most critical. No
wonder, at inception in 1956, realising the need to localise
ships’ maintenance, the
NN ensured that her personnel were well-trained, to the extent
that they were capable of maintaining the ships. However this
was limited in scope as she depended entirely on foreign suppliers
for spare-parts and there was no adequate infrastructure for
ships’ refit. Consequently, ships’ refit had to be
effected in foreign countries of manufacture, as recommended
by the shipbuilders. This trend continued up to the 1980s, after
which many of the skilled personnel started to deflect, as they
got better opportunities outside the NN. The development left
the NN with shortage of skilled manpower. At the same time, there
was dearth of spare-parts occasioned by the budgetary constraints.
The resultant effect was a deterioration of ships and the machineries.
2. It therefore became necessary for the
NN to look inward for effective maintenance of her ships. In
so doing, a holistic approach was adopted. In this regard,
emerging local infrastructure had to be explored. With the
commissioning of NND and acquisition of Naval Shipyard in 1990,
a foundation for local ships’ refit
was therefore laid. Hence, the refit of NNS ARADU was initiated
in 1990 and concluded in 1993. Subsequent attempt also led to
the refit of NNS LANA at Nigerdock from 1994-1997, with modest
successes. It was not until 2003, at the instance of Mr. President
that a directive was given to the NN to commence a comprehensive
local refit of her ships in line with the government reform policy,
which is essentially anchored on local content development, capacity
building, foreign exchange conservation and infrastructural build-
up. Since then, a number of NN vessels have undergone some form
of refits, with mixed results. The most important outcome of
the refits was the lessons garnered, which should be very useful
in subsequent refits.
3. It is against this background that this
paper will examine the efforts that have been invested into
localisation of ships’ maintenance
in the NN, highlighting the challenges and the way forward.
4. The aim of this paper is to appraise
the efforts that have been made towards localising ships’ maintenance
in the NN with a view to proffering the way forward.
5. The paper is designed to cover the following areas:
a. Overview of maintenance in the NN
b. Dynamics of ships’ maintenance in specific countries
c. Factors militating against local maintenance effort
d. Challenges and the way forward
OVERVIEW OF MAINTANANCE IN THE NN
6. Let me acknowledge that it is traditional
to define and analyse the key words in a lecture, in order
to properly set the stage for better comprehension. However,
this time around I will not attempt to define any of the key
words here as I am aware that the audience is very much abreast
with the import of the topic. All the same, the pertinent question
here is whether the maintenance of NN ships has been localised,
is being localised or will be localised. Therefore, maintenance
in the context of this paper will cover refit, modernisation,
conversion and any other form of repair activities onboard
NN ships. The expression ‘localisation
of ships’ maintenance’ would be referred to as all
activities taken onboard NN ships within the country, to ensure
in case of damage or failure, the immediate restoration of a
high level of material readiness, including the logistics support.
REVIEW/HISTORY OF MAINTENANCE IN THE NN
7. The NN came to being in 1956 through a naval ordinance, with
a statutory role of naval defence within the territorial waters.
This role was however expanded in 1964 to become, Naval Defence
of Nigeria. Within this period, her Fleet consisted essentially
of not-too- sophisticated, ex-Royal Navy ships of the OGOJA and
ENUGU class. Notwithstanding, the Navy was mindful of the need
to localise maintenance of the ships. Accordingly, the NN personnel
were adequately trained to carry out self and Assisted Maintenance
onboard, albeit with spare- parts imported from the countries
of origin. By the end of the civil war, and having learnt from
the experience of the war, the Navy was now well disposed to
buying more sophisticated ships like NNS OTOBO and NNS DORINA.
Also mindful of the need to maintain these vessels, personnel
were again, trained, so as to be well acquainted with the onboard
systems. However, spare- parts still had to be sourced from foreign
countries. There was also no adequate infrastructure for maintenance
beyond second level or assisted maintenance level. Hence, Docking
for Essential Defects (DEDs), normal refits and major refits
had to be effected in Europe. This trend was sustained up to
8. In order to reduce the financial burden of carrying out DEDs
and refit abroad among other reasons, it became imperative to
own a Dockyard. Accordingly, highly integrated facilities were
constructed at the Naval Dockyard, Wilmot Point, Lagos. About
the same time, a shipyard was also acquired in PH. Thus, it became
possible for DEDs to be carried out in Nigeria as well as refit
programmes. However, spare parts were still being sourced from
9. In 1990, there was a need to stretch
luck’ beyond Self and Assisted Maintenance. Thus, an experimental
refit programme was conducted with NNS ARADU, as the guinea pig.
To this end, a Refit Authority was constituted with an enabling
NNO in order to provide direction for efficient use of men and
material. The experiment was further simplified because the refit
objectives were limited to the propulsion system, A/C, Refrigeration
as well as selected auxiliaries. Another major decision taken
was the involvement of foreign experts through Blohn and Voss.
10. There was a deliberate policy to also involve own personnel
in order to build local capacity. At the end of the refit programme,
the limited objectives manifested in successful sea acceptance
trials. However, due to policy summersault, most of the trained
personnel were subsequently lost to the larger labour market
and so further attempts to sustain the programme was futile.
11. It was not until 1994 that NNS LANA was again refitted in
Niger dock, with major expertise provided by a polish company
NAVIMOR. Then in the year 2003, acting on the directive of Mr
President, in line with the Government reform programme, another
comprehensive refit programme was initiated, involving several
ships. Undoubtedly, some successes have been recorded but not
without constraints and challenges.
12. Taking a cursory look at this chequered
maintenance history, a few facts have got to emerge. Firstly,
in the NN had always depended almost entirely on imported spare-
parts. Secondly, maintenance has not been efficient because of
poor skills and finally the infrastructure are either not available
or not efficient. Beyond this however, the man who is the most
important factor in any organisational endeavour is either not
properly trained or not motivated to face the challenges. All
these would be considered in due course.
MAINTENANCE STRUCTURES IN THE NN
13. In an attempt to improve the Navy’s
ability to maintain its ships and other assets of the fleet,
provision was made for the establishment of the Fleet Support
Division (FSD) in the NN force structure. This was borne as
a result of an approval by the Navy Board in 1988 for NN manpower
rationalization. The FSD was charged with a number of responsibilities
which include formulation of maintenance policies, identifying
NN warships maintenance tasks and ensuring application of naval
engineering standards among others.
14. The FMC was established by NNO 04/90 of 05 Mar 90 to perform
the functions assigned to FSD. After a year, 5 other corps were
established. In an attempt to fine-tune the corps, the NN Logistics
Corps was established by NNO 08/92. This Corps was eventually
reverted to the original FMC. Also, complementary to the FMC
are the FSGs and of recent, IPC repair unit. One thing is clear
from the above that the NN has been having problems instituting
a maintenance organisation that would ensure synergy between
its various units for effective maintenance. Interestingly, this
short coming is gradually being overcome. Without being immodest,
a number of achievements and lessons have been learnt in the
course of this refit programmes.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND LESSON LEARNT
15. Since 2003, when the local refit program was comprehensively
initiated, the NN has been able to resuscitate a number of unserviceable
machineries and equipment, resulting in a number of ships being
able to deploy at sea. At inception, the number of ships being
repaired simultaneously were many. As a result, there was no
concentration of effort and resources. This anomaly was however
discovered leading to further consolidation of effort. Hence,
the categorization of ships into priorities. Presently, priority
1 ships which include NNS ARADU, NNS AYAM, NNS SIRI, NNS YOLA
and Tug RUDOLF are able to put to sea. As a result, effort is
being made to sustain and even improve upon the gains on these
ships, so as to keep them seaworthy always. Priority 2 ships
are those ships with a number of serviceable machineries but
requiring extra effort to put to sea. In this category are; NNS
AMBE, NNS DAMISA, NNS OHUE, NNS BARAMA and ENYIMIRI. Effort is
currently being made to put this category of ships back to sea.
Indeed, it is hoped that NNS DAMISA and NNS AMBE would have completed
their harbour and sea trials within the next three weeks or thereabout.
The last 2 categories; priorities 3 and 4 ships are those ships
that are not presently seaworthy but are capable of floating.
With consistent effort, many of the ships in this category are
expected to be catapulted to higher priorities within a short
16. It is interesting to note that prior to this time, it was
difficult to believe that the level of competency that has been
utilized in the course of this refit program, does exist locally
in Nigeria. One important lesson therefore, that can be adduced
from the foregoing is that as long as local entrepreneurs are
being challenged and their efforts properly coordinated, their
level of competency would continue to improve and the NN in particular
and Nigeria in general would benefit from it.
DYNAMICS OF SHIPS’ MAINTENANCE IN
17. India is a maritime nation with much
of its individual and economic activities located within 200
miles of its coastline. More than 95% of India’s trade
by volume and 75% by value are seaborne. India is a relatively
more technologically advanced country than Nigeria. There are
about 40 shipyards in India out of which 3 are administered
by the Ministry of Defence. These are Mazagon Dockyard, Garden
Reach Shipyard and Engineers and Goa Shipyard. These yards
construct ships for the Indian Navy.
18. Indian Navy (IN), the world’s fifth largest with a
strength of about 55,000 personnel including 5,000 naval aviation
and 2,000 marines has about 160 ships and about 185 aircraft
Fleet Air Arm. The Indian Navy’s budget in the last 10
years ranges between 12% and 15% of total defence budget. In
1980, indigenization was signposted as the road towards self-reliance
in the long term and the 3 yards administered by the Defence,
have built about 79 ships for the IN and Coastguard. These dockyards
also carry out crucial tasks of repair; maintenance and refitting
of warships to enable them operate effectively at sea. In the
last 3 decades, maintenance of ships has been localized by the
Indian Navy. However, foreign experts are still used where local
expertise in foreign equipment is lacking. Particularly, the
Russians still assist the IN local maintenance efforts with some
spares and expertise.
19. One of the factors in favour of ships’ maintenance
in the IN is the budgeting process, which enables money for local
maintenance, to be classified and released under recurrent expenditure
instead of capital. Hence, the Indian Parliament does not debate
maintenance budget since they are predictable and expended like
salaries and emoluments. Also, IN organizes an annual conference
integrating all branches and departments involved in local maintenance
of ships to discuss all maintenance programs for the year. Also
of note is the fact that, in the IN at least 75% of its naval
engineers have post graduate degrees. Thus, adequate funding,
functional repair yards and local expertise supported by foreign
assistance have contributed to local maintenance of ships in
the IN. The NN can also take a dressing from the experience of
the Indian Navy by ensuring a budgetary system that would enable
it to have sufficient access to maintenance funds as well as
maintaining good relationship with private owned yards and private
REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE NAVY
20. Strategically, Singapore is an economic link between the
Industrial and developing countries of East Asia, Europe and
the Middle East. It is a small nation state of about 3 million
people heavily dependent on trade. Hence the need to protect
her sea line of communication has made her to strengthen the
21. Singapore’s defense philosophy
is anchored on highly trained force with technically advanced
weapon. Hence technology is exploited to the fullest, with
the advantage of a virile defence, supported by a robust economy.
After gaining independent in 1966, Singapore established its
own defence industries to minimize reliance on foreign countries.
By 1975, three government corporations were in place to maintain,
refit and build warships. Of these 3, Singapore Technologies
(ST) Ltd was the most prominent as it was the holding company
for the defence industries. ST could be likened to the DICON
of Nigeria with subsidiaries to include the NND, air force
support component and army support component but with substantial
22. The Republic of Singapore Navy, over the years has been
able to develop her capacity to maintain and build ships through
a deliberate policy of technology transfer and training, which
is usually a part of all licenced production process. To facilitate
technology assimilation, she emphasizes overseas training.
23. In the process of developing maintenance technologies, Singapore
is usually noted to buy ships from friendly countries and thereafter
modify and retrofit them to suit her own peculiarity. Another
method of technology acquisition is to buy from an advanced country,
with the first set built in the country of origin and the remaining
in Singapore. This was how she acquired her 6 x Victory Class
Corvettes from Germany in 1983 and challenger class submarine
in 1995 among others.
24. It is instructive to note that Nigerian
Navy cannot boast of the maintenance capacity of Singapore
as the budget is not in any way comparable. For instance Singapore’s
Defence budget in 1998 was US$4.3b, about 70 percent the value
of Nigeria national budget then, yet Nigeria has a population
about 50 times that of Singapore. However, NN must realize
that technology acquisition in Singapore is anchored on advanced
training, licenced production and liaison with countries with
better technology. The NN today has not less than 60 MTU engines
in service. It is only natural that we train maximally for
the maintenance. We also need to put the necessary infrastructure
in place for the maintenance. Indeed, the nation should be
looking forward to licenced production of some of the parts.
The same applies to other equipment in service. These efforts
may appear expensive but is it no longer true that the cost
of ignorance is much more than that of training!!!! That is
food for thought
SOUTH AFRICAN NAVY
25. South Africa is undoubtedly one of the
most technologically advanced countries in Africa. It is therefore
not surprising that she boasts of one of the best shipbuilding
and maritime industrial environment in Africa. Accordingly,
many of the South African Naval Ships are refitted, modernised
or partially constructed locally in South Africa. Presently,
she has advanced to the extent that she is already considering
constructing vessels for the export industry. Specifically,
the South African Navy (SAN) is considering a ‘multi-purpose hull’ concept that is
of standard hull and propulsion combination and adaptable for
different missions. According to a report written by R/Adm Bernhand
Genteberg, Director of Maritime Plans, ‘if the SAN, in
conjunction with commercial enterprises, develops multi-purpose
hulls that not only meet our needs but also the needs of African
Navies, and are within their budgets, then we can seek exports,
create sustainability and later gain from refit, repair and modernisation
work on these vessels.’ This is not surprising considering
that a local electronic company C2I2 has won a contract to equip
the world’s most powerful warships, USS Nimitz-class Aircraft
26. Again, because of the unique history of SAN, technology
is in their favour. Besides, the nation has a transparent budgetary
provision that guarantees sufficient funding for navy projects
including refits and new constructions. SAN can therefore stand
out as a big brother, from where the NN can easily cut its teeth.
It seems the process has started, as many personnel have been
trained of recent, in SAN. However, there is a need to widen
the scope of such training and particularly extend it to technical
personnel of the NN.
FACTORS MILITATING AGAINST LOCAL MAINTENANCE EFFORTS
27. There are myriads of factors militating against local maintenance
efforts in the NN. Some of them have been inevitably mentioned
but at the risk of repeating myself, more will be considered.
These include weak industrial base, inadequate training, inadequate
resources, obsolescence of repair facilities, lack of spares
and tools, lack of information among others. We will now briefly
examine some of the factors.
WEAK INDUSTRIAL BASE
28. It was earlier established that out
of the variables accountable for effective maintenance, local
sourcing of spare- parts has been the biggest casualty. This
is borne out of a weak industrial base. The Key manufacturing
firms needed for sound industrial base are few and not functioning
well. These include steel and allied industries, electrical/electronics
and other general manufacturing industries. As a result of
the Nation’s weak industrial
base, the defence sector is not faring well. The Defence Industry
Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) established in 1964 as an ordinance
and other related industries are yet to make any impact on the
local maintenance effort. Indeed, the essence of establishing
DICON was to act as a coordinating centre for all defence industrial
activities, like its counterparts in Brazil and other places.
40 years after establishment, DICON is yet to make any impact
on the defence industrial base of Nigeria.
29. It is generally believed that some potential
exist in the Nation’s manufacturing industry for the production of spares
for defence equipment. However, these potentials are yet to be
developed .It would therefore require a deliberate effort to
stimulate the sector. Of particular importance are the spares
for MTU engines used for main propulsion and power generation
onboard NNS ARADU, NNS AMBE, NNS SIRI, NNS AYAM, NNS ENYIMIRI
and NNS DAMISA. Indeed, not less than 60 units of such prime-movers
are in the inventory of the NN, yet not a bolt of this engine
is produced locally. The ships have been undergoing major Assisted
Maintenance Period with wholly imported spares. These efforts
could have failed due to unavailability of spare parts, if there
was no foreign manufacturer’s support. The situation could
only be imagined assuming Nigeria was at war with a maritime
based ally of Germany. Some of the causes of weak industrial
base include lack of consistent Government policies on indigenization,
inadequate funding of R and D, psychological barrier to indigenization,
nominal participation of private sector in defense production
among others. There is also the need to once again, set up a
high powered unit within the NN that would identify potential
producers of NN machineries and technical consumables with a
view to facilitating production of such facilities. Thanks to
the policy direction of the government that emphasizes local
content development within the economy. A skeptic, I would imagine
would ask, what about the R and D department. My response to
this is that Nigerians are averse to anything R and D and that
is one reason why it’s never funded. What then can be achieved
30. From history, man has always been the
main engine of development. It is only the man that can make
the machine work. No wonder, the Chinese often say, ‘when the wrong man uses the right
means, the right means work the wrong way’.
31. Presently, the technical manpower available to the NN is
qualitatively and quantitatively inadequate. Many of the well
trained and experienced personnel are no longer in service for
reasons known to all, while the ones remaining are deficient.
Officers and ratings are neither encouraged nor funded to pursue
further specialist courses. Consequently, they soon become liabilities
to the system.
32. To appreciate the enormity of the problem, one needs to
refer to Eze’s finding about 2 years ago, which showed
that out of 225 Engineers in the NN, only 9(3.5 percent) have
post- graduate training while only 14 (5.2 percent) enjoyed
manufacturer’s training on ships’ systems. In the
IN, the corresponding figures are respectively 75 percent and
79 percent. In the NN, the figure may even be lower now as
many have been lost to ROD of recent. It is interesting however
that this shortcoming has been brought to the attention of
the CNS; and the CNS in his usual magnanimity has approved
some courses for personnel and there’s a lot of hope
for the future.
33. The issue of resources will be recurrent
in the lecture and so my comment at this point will be brief.
After all, it is common knowledge that maintenance capability
is dependent on sufficient resources. Let me just say that
some experts have argued in favour of annual maintenance budget
of 10 percent of replacement cost. But I argue that maintenance
cost will depend on many factors including age of equipment,
usage, design for reliability and maintenance history .What
is most important however is that, when equipment is being
procured, ‘the true life
cost’, must be considered as the cost of buying and maintaining
throughout the life of equipment. If there is no provision for
maintenance cost, then no need to buy.
DILAPIDATED INFRASTRUCTURAL FACILITIES
34. The existing facilities within the NN inventory cannot be
said to be adequate. Accordingly, other existing facilities in
the country would go a long way to supplement the NN facilities.
The state of the existing facilities poses a major problem to
the concerned authorities in the maintenance of NN ships. Graciously,
these problems have been brought to the attention of the Chief
of the Naval Staff and they are gradually being addressed. It
is hoped that the trend would be sustained.
DEARTH OF SPARE PARTS AND TOOLS
35. The technical store depot at NNS BEECROFT and NND were established
in order to ensure adequate storage and distribution of spares
to support fleet maintenance. Unfortunately, these stores have
not been adequately upgraded as spare- parts are sometimes consumed
without replacement. Infact, since 1988, the NN has not been
purchasing spare parts in bulk as was the case some years ago.
However, it is quite interesting that a major reorganization
and reengineering is ongoing in the area of data handling and
spare- parts management. A concerted effort needs to be made
to empower naval engineers as well as private entrepreneurs so
they can design and fabricate spares and tools. The potential
exist in Nigeria and must be exploited. These efforts need to
be intensified if we are to get to our Eldorado, within a short
36. The rapid rate of technology development
has made information an essential tool for systems and equipment
maintenance. Through the Global System Network, information
is at anybody’s
finger tip anywhere in the world. Notwithstanding, manufacturers
are still very discreet about the level of information made available
on the network. The reason for this is simple. It is meant to
continuously tie the apron string of the users to the manufacturers,
so they will continue to depend on them. The point to be made
here is that future policy makers must consider the importance
of system information, circuit diagrams, equipment layout etc
when decisions on acquisitions are being taken.
CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
37. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
how do we build the NN of the future? We need to take every
opportunity to exploit technology and the benefits it offers
to make our ships more effective and better prepared to fight.
We need to concentrate our efforts in the right direction,
because the NN’s mission
will demand that we embrace some new strategies supported by
more flexible capabilities made possible by advanced technologies.
Against this background, we need to discuss future challenges
and the way forward, in the NN under the following headings:
Ageing fleet, transfer of technology, research and development
(R&D), Fleet maintenance planning, training and funding.
38. Ageing Fleet. Most of the ships in the NN fleet are ageing.
Majority of these ships were acquired between the seventies
and eighties, except for the CAT class ships which joined the
fleet in 2004. These ships were acquired from various foreign
shipbuilders and the old age has started posing challenges
to the NN engineers. This is because equipment and machinery
failure rates have increased leading to high cost of maintenance.
Due to rapid development in technology by those countries that
manufactured the ships, onboard equipment are fast becoming
obsolete, hence dearth of spare parts, as some of the production
lines are no more in existence. These problems have posed serious
challenges to the NN because ships are no longer available
at expected standard, for naval operations. The only antidote
to this is to commence the process of developing indigenous
capacity for local construction of ships. After all, Singapore
was able to accelerate its maintenance capability through shipbuilding.
Nigeria can also do it. Infact Cdre Ademoroti rtd advocated
several years ago that, the best way for the NN to develop
local capacity for maintenance was through indigenous shipbuilding.
His maxim then was, ‘if we can build, we can also maintain’.
That philosophy is still true up to date.
39. Transfer of Technology (TOT). It is
generally believed that TOT will lead to quick indigenization.
This theory, though quite attractive, is not easy to work in
practice. The owners of technology, for various reasons; financial,
commercial and competition are not ready to part with sensitive
technologies on the development of which they may have spent
millions and even billions of dollars. Whenever TOT takes place,
it is by and large, placed on outdated and non-sensitive equipment
or, is for only selected few, non-crucial items. Even in these
cases, the transfer of technology is done to the extent that
a particular part or subassembly can be indigenously produced
with little or no room for any changes or modifications in
its design. Many a time, the materials, tooling and machines
continue to be imported from the supplier of the technology to
run the production line. In almost no case, would the owner of
the technology, transfer the know-how on modern equipment. This
is not peculiar to Nigeria. Lt Col Hussein of Pakistan Army sums
it up thus, ‘the attempts made in the past to transfer
technology have not met with much success because of:-
a. Reluctance of the suppliers to part with sensitive technologies.
b. Non-involvement of teams of weapon systems experts during
c. Limited quantity of equipment required to be produced.
d. Poor indigenous technological base.
e. Acquired technology becoming outdated by the time it is absorbed’.
The onus is therefore on the NN to intensify efforts at developing indigenous
technology. The NN needs JV cooperation with navies or organizations that possess
superior and appropriate technology to develop our local capacity. No developing
navy goes it alone. Developing navies of India, South Africa, and Brazil amongst
others have benefited from technology transfer through JV. The NN cannot be
an exception because the environment in which our ships are operated and maintained
is technologically unsophisticated. Local participation of contractors in the
ongoing refit programme is acknowledged and appreciated. However, many of the
organizations and individuals involved lack requisite skills and capacity for
certain maintenance functions, needed in the NN. The consequence is that technology
cannot be transferred from these organizations to the NN, since it is not possible
to give what you don’t have. Thus, the NN needs to re appraise the capabilities
of local and foreign contractors with a view to selecting only those with facilities
and the knowledge that could facilitate technology transfer. We also need to
keep an open door to foreign expertise through JV partnership. It is interesting
that the process has started with the recent visit of some foreign company
representatives. It is again hoped that the process would be drawn to a conclusive
40. Training. In considering training, let us ponder on the
a. It is in our interest to remain a regional power.
b. Advances in technology will not diminish but will continue
to rise on an exponential curve
c. If technology continues to expand, and its application remains
important to our strength as a navy, then the importance of
and necessity for engineering and its individual disciplines
are self evident.
The deduction from the foregoing gives an important challenge
that is worthy of note: How are we as practicing naval engineers
going to prepare our selves against the background of rapidly
expanding technology for the application of that technology to
an effective local maintenance. Since the modern warship is a
complex product, it is pertinent for the NN to pursue further
training in systems engineering, ship building, shipyard management,
control engineering, air conditioning and refrigeration, manufacturer
courses and other engineering management courses in tertiary
institutions and manufacturing companies.
41. Research And Development. To keep pace
with rapidly changing technology in the field of naval warfare,
research and development establishments play a vital role.
This is particularly true for a third world country like Nigeria.
No nation relies on foreign technology for the development
of its own defense industry. Rather, he should explore and
set up his own research and development capability. Only in
this way, can a sound foundation for defense industries be
made. Therefore, there is a need to strengthen and establish
more vibrant and enterprising R&D organizations,
which can keep pace with changing technologies and innovations.
Such organizations would have to look after three dimensions
of research; Basic, Applied and Development research. R&D
should also provide the capability for industrial development
and develop civil technologies. All this requires correct perception,
at decision making level, manageable funds and requisite expertise
and policy consistency.
FLEET MAINTENANCE – WAY FORWARD
42. Over the years, the NN has experimented
with various maintenance organisations, and it seems the concept
of FMC has come to stay. It is on record that FMC is to serve
as the final destination centre for all the maintenance activities,
with the FSGs reporting directly to it.Gracefully, the situation
has not changed. Beyond the FMC, there have been strong opinions
in support of the expansion of FSGs. It is believed that independent,
autonomous and well funded units should be established at FSGs,
under the Command of the CFSG but ultimately responsible to
the CFMC. In this regard, 5 autonomous units in each FSG are
recommended. It is to include Main Engines, Main Auxiliaries,
Weapons and controls, Radar and Communications and Construction.
This structure undoubtedly would improve the efficiency of
ships’ maintenance at the first
and second levels. For the 3rd level, the NND would also need
to be expanded, restructured and better-empowered. Papers have
been written on this particular matter, in the past.
43. There is the need to align ourselves with a few developed
Nations for genuine technical support, cross-fertilization of
ideas and knowledge exchange. The Sea- Power Africa symposium
,that is forth-coming in Nigeria is a positive step in this direction.
44. It is generally believed that some of the critical problems
currently experienced onboard ships are borne out of poor quality
control. It is therefore important that we strengthen our quality
control mechanism .Allied to that is the gulf between the Engineering
and Logistics Branches. Recent experience has shown that some
aspects of Logistics management need to be directly under the
control of the maintenance managers, if equipment downtime is
to be reduced.
45. The current use of local expertise should be restricted
to those firms that have the capacity and capability to contribute
effectively to NN local maintenance efforts. There is also the
need to further ensure that these local expertise are highly
specialized in order to be able to contribute more meaningfully
to the local refit effort. The local refit guidelines articulated
in NN 11/05 should be followed. Successful maintenance of NN
ships will largely depend on availability of technical manpower
with adequate and relevant training on ship borne equipment and
systems. A long term goal of 60% naval engineers with post graduate
and specialist qualification could be set within 10 years. To
reduce the burden, training of officers and ratings in specialized
equipment could be conducted locally by local and foreign manufacturers.
46. Finally, the issue of funding can never be over emphasized.
Maintenance of ships is a capital intensive venture. It therefore
requires adequate and regular funding for effective maintenance
of the fleets. The provision must be made in the annual budget
and the fund promptly released. For the first time in the history
of the Nigerian navy, the last eighteen months or so has witnessed
improved funding for ship maintenance but there is still room
for improvement. To appreciate the enormity of the problem, it
must be understood that the minimum of ten percent of replacement
cost recommended for annual maintenance translated to about 52
billion naira as at year 2003. Where this amount of money is
to be obtained for ship maintenance alone can only be imagined
especially in an economy where the total defence budget for the
same year is less than one hundred billion. Thank God for the
current initiative, whereby maintenance fund is being sourced
outside the defence budget. There is a need to intensify the
effort, as it is a step in the right direction. The onus is also
on the maintenance planners of which I am one, to evolve the
most cost effective way of putting the ships back to sea.
47. I started this presentation with a broad overview of maintenance
in the NN. Like every other endeavour, maintenance of ships is
fraught with many problems. These were highlighted as weak industrial
base, inadequate resources, underdeveloped human resource exemplified
in lack of expertise in some critical areas and of course, dilapidated
infrastructure, lack of spares, tools and requisite information.
It is however interesting that some of these problems are currently
being addressed at the very highest level. One is very optimistic
that if the current effort is sustained, there is going to be
light at the end of the tunnel. In the course of the lecture,
Local maintenance efforts in some countries were also studied,
with a view to drawing some lessons for the NN.
48. Flowing from the problems militating against effective local
maintenance of ships at present, and what the future Navy should
be, I predicted the future challenges and how to surmount them.
Firstly, the ageing fleet and associated problems such as obsolescence
of equipment, dearth of spare parts, high cost of maintenance,
amongst others. In this regard, the NN would have to seek technology
transfer through Joint Venture partnerships, but must have to
build the ships locally. Furthermore, R+D activities must be
vigorously pursued in order to catch-up with rapid technological
advancements in the world. Thus, R+D should be strengthened with
adequate funding and skilled manpower. Seriously, funding has
been a recurring factor in the discourse. In any case what can
be done without funding? Finally, relentless training of technical
personnel must be at the forefront of the NN agenda.
49. It has been a pleasure being in the midst of fellow naval
officers. There are exciting times ahead and times of golden
opportunities too. We can do a great deal if all of us, irrespective
of branch and specialization work as a team. Working as a team
will enable us face future challenges with a concentration
of effort, so we can produce a navy that is effective and always
battle ready. Here I rest my case while looking forward to
an exciting discourse. Thanks for your rapt attention.
Capt WK OGUNBIYI