BRIEF HISTORY OF NIGERIA NAVY
The Nigerian Navy (NN) is a branch of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The Nigerian Navy is among the largest Navies on the African continent, consisting of several personnel, including those of the Coast Guard.
The Nigerian Navy owes its origin to the Nigerian Marine. Formed in 1914 after the amalgamation of the then Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria, the Nigerian Marine as it became known after 1914 was a quasi-military organization. Its origin lay with the Lagos Marines, which was first established in 1887 by the British Colonial Government. This Force later expanded to become the Southern Nigerian Marine in 1893. A Northern Nigeria equivalent of the same name was formed in 1900. The 2 Marines were merged in 1914 after Nigeria came under a single colonial administration. The responsibility of the Marine included administration of the ports and harbours, dredging of channels, bouyage and lighting. It also operated ferry services, touring launches and other small craft that plied the various creeks and other inland waterways. The Royal Navy provided the necessary military security as part of its overall military defence of the British Empire . Though it performed mostly coast guard functions, the Nigerian Marine saw action in the First World War as part of the British military offensive against German held Cameroon. This organization remained the only maritime outfit in Nigeria until 1955 when the British colonial authorities carried out a major reorganisation of Nigeria's maritime administration in order to improve efficiency. This re-organisation led to the establishment of 3 new organizations to undertake the various functions hitherto carried out by the Marine Department.
The first of these 3 new organizations was the Nigerian Ports Authority, which was charged with the running of ports and ensuring safe navigation. The second organisation was the Inland Waterways Department, which took over the running of ferries and touring launches. The third organisation was the Nigerian Naval Force, made up mostly of reserve Royal Navy officers and ex-Service personnel who were transferred to the Nigerian Ports Authority from the defunct Nigerian Marine. These officers and men never liked the transfer and pressed the Colonial Authorities to re-constitute them as the nucleus of a future Nigerian Navy. Under pressure from them, the Nigerian Naval Force was established on 1 June 1956 as a nucleus of a future Navy. Its primary responsibility was to train the necessary manpower and set up the appropriate infrastructure that will be utilized by the planned Navy. The first basic training establishment to train manpower for the future Navy - the HMNS QUORRA was started on 1 November 1957 with 60 junior ratings who underwent a 6 month basic seamanship course.
On 1 May 1958, a colonial ordinance formally brought the Nigerian Naval Force under the Naval Disciplinary Act. This act essentially brought the officers and men of the Nigerian Naval Force under the disciplinary procedures and legal regimes applicable to the Royal Navy.
In July 1959, the Nigerian Naval Force was transformed into a full fledged Navy when Queen Elizabeth granted permission for the Force to use the title ‘Royal Nigerian Navy’. The title was changed to the ‘Nigerian Navy’ in 1963 after Nigeria became a republic. The constitutional task of the Navy was expanded in 1964 after the repeal of the 1958 Ordinance. The new law known as the Navy Act of 1964 for the first time tasked the Navy with the military responsibility of “naval defence of Nigeria.” Other tasks assigned the Navy by the 1964 Act were essentially coast guard duties namely: assisting in enforcement of Customs laws, making of hydrographic surveys and training of officers and men in naval duties.
These tasks were essentially routine functions of any Navy. Consequently, the naval leadership began to mount pressure on the political leadership to re-define the constitutional role of the Navy. In 1993, this pressure yielded the desired result and under a new law; the Armed Forces Decree 105 now known as the Armed Forces Act, was incorporated as part of the 1999 Constitution. The Navy was given expanded military and constabulary roles especially in the oil and gas sectors of the Nigerian maritime economy