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Prospects And Challenges Of Space Technology In Nigerian Navy Maritime Operations
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Page Number(s)





Title Page












Table of Content












Conduct of the Nigerian Navy Maritime Operations

6 -12


The Policy Framework of Nigeria Space  Programme

12 - 17


Employment of Space Technology in the  Nigerian Navy Maritime Operations

17 - 26


Challenges  of Employing Space  Technology in the Nigerian Navy Maritime Operations

26 - 32


The way Forward

32 - 36



37 - 40



40 - 41





Annex A

A - 1


Annex B

B - 1


Annex C

C1 – C-2


Annex D



Annex E



Annex F





This paper is on prospects and challenges of space technology in Nigerian Navy maritime operations. The NN maritime operations have evolved through stages which are defined by the NN constitutional mandate. The integration of space technology into the NN maritime operations has the potentials to greatly improve the performance of the NN military and policing roles. This is more so as the NN has found it increasingly difficult to effectively patrol the wide sea area of Nigerian maritime environment. The paper therefore examines the employment of space technology in   NN maritime operations by looking at the conduct of NN maritime operations. The  policy framework of Nigerian Space programme  was also discussed. The employment of space technology in NN maritime operations was considered before highlighting the challenges facing employment of space technology in NN maritime operations. To address these challenges, the paper proffered the way forward which is sound indigenous technological base and establishment of military space command, among others.            






  1. The advancements in science and technology has had an outstanding impact on the activities of man particularly since the early twentieth century.[1] The advancement has resulted in some radical transformation in man’s life and has revolutionized several aspect of man’s civilization. This is evident in man’s achievements in areas like computer technology, medicine, energy, transportation, building, military advancement, and space technology, among others.[2] In the field of space technology, manmade exceptional breakthrough with the first landing on the moon.[3]


  1. Although the crave for space exploration was spurred by the competitiveness during the Cold War between the United States (US) and the defunct Union of Soviet  Socialist Republic it invariably created a platform for the advancement in space technology.[4]  Since then, the development of space technology has positively impacted several aspect of human development from the weather to the advancements in communication and defence systems. Owing to the benefit of space technology, advanced countries such as Japan, United Kingdom and the US have continued to commit huge investment to research in space technology. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the Financial Year 2011 about 572.2 million US Dollars has been budgeted for space technology development activities.[5] A substantial amount of this budget plan is for research in space technology for defence need.


  1. The adaptation of space technology especially for military use has had enormous impact on   defence capabilities of super power nations.[6] Some of the advancement in the military includes the guided missiles, missile warning alert, weather, chart updates and high capacity military communication system. Despite these achievements the artificial satellite remains a major breakthrough in the exploration of space technology. The use of satellite, among other applications, is essential for effective conduct of military operations particularly in the air and maritime environment.[7]

4.     Space technology in maritime operations creates a great capacity for any littoral nation to manage its waterways effectively as it relate to national security.[8]  It is also necessary for prompt and reliable information transmission, monitoring of deep sea platforms and offshore installations in maritime operations.[9] This has made navies of some African countries like South Africa, Algeria and Egypt to tap into their respective space based national assets to enhance the conduct of their maritime operations.


5.     The development of space technology in Nigeria has also been considerably progressive since 1999.[10] This eventually led to the establishment of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in the same year. NASRDA, in September 2003 launched the first Nigerian earth observation satellite known as the Nigeria-Sat 1.[11] This satellite is currently used for aerial imagery and communications. There has been attempt to link the Nigerian Armed Forces with the space programme. Consequently, a committee was set up at DHQ to study the National Space Policy and Programmes (NSPP) as it concerns the Armed Forces. However, no action has been taken to implement the committee’s report.


6.     The application of space technology in military operations, especially in maritime operations, has the potential to greatly improve the performance of NN’s military and policing roles. This is more so as the NN has increasingly found it difficult to effectively patrol the wide sea area of Nigerian maritime environment and to check illegal activities perpetrated therein. This therefore, stressed the need for the NN to seek for ways to take advantage of the benefits of space technology at its present state in Nigeria. The NN, like in the case of some African navies, stands to benefit greatly from this space project with regard to its use in maritime operations.


7.     The purpose of this paper therefore is to discuss the employment of space technology towards improving NN maritime operations. This paper will first look at the conduct of the Nigerian Navy maritime operations. Thereafter, the Nigeria space policy framework will be discussed. Additionally, the paper will discuss the employment of space technology in maritime operations and the challenges facing employment of space technology in NN maritime operations. Lastly, the paper will proffer the way forward. Space technology could be employed in support of maritime operation to achieve space control, space support and force enhancement. However, this paper would only consider the force enhancement roles of space technology. This is because force enhancement application is the simplest and most viable for the NN. It is assumed that the Nigerian Government would sustain current drive in the development of space technology.







8.     The aim of this paper is to examine the employment of space technology in NN maritime operations with a view to making recommendations.


9.     The NN conduct its operations over a relatively wide expanse of sea area, which is about 84,000 sq nm[12]. In this area are found numerous living and non living resources of immense value to the economy of the nation[13]. Nigeria’s sea area is also a beehive of maritime activities as it is the hub of trade in the West African Sub-region. Needless to say, the prospect of Nigerian maritime environment attracts both well meaning and criminally minded people. The activities of these criminals such as smuggling, illegal bunkering and oil theft, piracy/sea robbery and illegal fishing result in several threats to Nigeria’s economy and national security. The appreciation of the extent of Nigeria maritime environment and the threats therein informs how NN conduct its maritime operations. This will be discussed under the NN organisational structure, NN force structure and NN Maritime Domain Awareness effort.





10.   The NN is organised into 2 operational commands to provide adequate coverage for Nigeria’s vast maritime area. These are the Western and Eastern Naval Commands with their headquarters located at Lagos and Calabar respectively. The 2 operational commands are supported by Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) in terms of training and Naval Logistics Command in terms of logistics.


11.   The operational commands control the activities of operations bases and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in providing security to the Nigerian maritime environment.  The FOBs are meant to reduce reaction time and increase time on task of NN platforms. Additionally, they would reduce the logistics supply chain between NN vessels deployed for patrol duties and their bases. However, most of the FOBs lack the necessary support facilities and can therefore not achieve the objective for which they were established. Thus, the Nigerian maritime environment is neither sufficiently defended nor policed.  Map of Nigerian Maritime Environment is at Annex A.  Organisational Structure of the Nigerian Navy Command is at Annex B




12.   In order to support the command’s effort in maintaining security within Nigerian maritime environment, the NN has a fleet of ships and other platforms. The Nigerian Navy Fleet comprises various boats, ships and helicopters. The Fleet represent a fairly mixed class of ships. The major ones are categorized as combat maritime vessels, sealift capability forces, auxiliary vessels and Naval Air Arm[14]. The NN Fleet at present consists of ships which include Frigates, Corvettes; Fast Attack Crafts (FAC), Buoy tenders and Landing Ships Tanks (LST). Others are Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMV), River Town Patrol Crafts and Auxiliaries.  The boats include patrol boats, Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) and Jedi Boats.  The auxiliaries are the tugs and a survey ship.  The helicopters include the Agusta 109E and AB 206 that are organic to the Naval Air Arm.


13.   However, the present NN force structure revealed that NN is incapable of maintaining effective presence at sea. This is because the logistics vessels required extending operational range and endurance of the NN fleet is lacking. Another problem militating against effective patrol of Nigerian maritime environment is operational constraints borne out of poor operational state of the available NN platforms and inadequate platforms. Many of the available platforms are old and non operational while the few operational platforms are not sufficient to police the vast sea area. The poor operational state of the NN platforms could be attributed


[1] Science and Technology in the 20th Century, Microsoft Encyclopedia 2010.

[2] Ibid

[3] John Roach, Apollo Anniversary: Moon Landing “Inspired World” National Geographic News, 16 July 2009. http://news.nationalgeographic.com//news/2004/07/0714_040714_moonlanding.html. Accessed 9 Dec 10.

[4] D Paikowsky, Space Technology, Patterns of Warfare and Force Build-Up: Between a Large Power and a Small State, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association 48th Annual Convention, Hilton Chicago, CHICAGO, IL, USA, 28 Feb 2010.  http://www.allcademic.com/meta/p181010_index.html.  Accessed 8 Dec 10.

[5] Space Technology, Mission Directorate, NASA, http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/code/trl/trl.pdf. Accessed 29
Dec 10.  

[6] Lele A, ‘Relevance of Space Technology for Maritime Security’, Lecture delivered at the National Maritime Conference, 23 June 2010, p.4.

[7] Ibid, p.10.

[8] Ibid, p.6.

[9] Ibid, p.9.

[10] Borofice RA, The Nigerian Space Programmme: An Update, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Abuja, Nigeria, 2008, p.3.

[11] Ibid, p.4.

[12] Marine Resources Assessment Group,Review of Impact of Illegal Unreported Fishing on Developing Countries,(London:MRAG,2009

[13] Ibrahim II (V Adm) The Vision of the Chief of the Naval Staff for the NN’,A Paper delilivered at the AFCSC to Senior Course 32 on 14 Aug 09.


[14] Ibid

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