What happened to the most powerful warship in Africa

While many African militaries relied on donated military equipment in the post independent era, there were some exceptions, such as Nigeria, which used the growing demand for their raw materials, particularly oil, to buy modern defence equipment in the 1970s and 1980s.

The other notable exception was Apartheid South Africa which, faced with economic sanctions and a growing military threat from the Cubans and Russians in Angola and Rhodesia was forced to develop a domestic defence industry  mitigate the UN arms embargo that was imposed on it in 1977 to provide its military with equipment specifically designed for the conflicts it was fighting.

Nigeria and South Africa together had some of the most sophisticated military arsenal in Africa during this golden age.

He said that NNS ARADU is one of the three ships in the world with capabilities for simultaneous anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. The ship also has capability for electronic warfare and naval fire support.

NNS ARADU

After emerging victorious in the civil war one of the lessons learnt was the limitation of the Navy’s frigate NNS Nigeria. The Nigerian navy was powerless to stop French shipment of arms to Biafra separatists via the backdoor. It lacked the range and sophistication necessary to carry out an effective blockade. These shipment of arms prolonged the Nigerian civil.

With the discovery of oil the need to have a modern sophisticated frigate to complement and eventually replace Nigerian Navy’s long serving frigate, NNS Nigeria became apparent to naval planners in the mid-1970s.

The Nigerian Navy needed to reach blue waters with the appropriate ships in terms of firepower, extended operational range and enhanced surveillance capability. For this Nigerian turned to Germany.

The MEKO 360 frigate became the answer to these aspirations. The ship was built in just two years by the German shipbuilding company  Blohm + Voss.

NNSaradu
The unique Aradu is the most powerful warship in Africa, and the first of the MEKO series of warships, but she is likely to be retired soon
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The unique Aradu is the most powerful warship in Africa, and the first of the MEKO series of warships.

 

 

When the German built general purpose frigate was commissioned by the Nigerian Navy on 20 February 1983 it was one of the most powerful warship on Africa and one of the sophisticated frigate in the world, or as the Senegalese President outs it, “the pride of West Africa”.

 

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Nigerian frigate F89 leaving Lagos, Sept. 2005

The Meko Clsss Frigate NNS ARADU had the most sophisticated anti-air fire control system of any ship in the world as at 1984. It had excellent anti-surface and ship-borne helicopter anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The ship also possesses capability for naval fire support and electronic warfare. Additionally, she carries a ship-borne helicopter for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and enhanced surveillance/detection.

For armament the Nigerian Navy opted for the Italian built Otomat Mk.1 anti-ship missile. Forty of these missiles were delivered to the Nigerian Navy with eight deployed and the rest kept in storage.

For defence the ship was armed with twenty four Aspide surface-to-air missiles in an octuple launcher mounted atop the hangar.

otomat scale
Otomat Mk2 anti-ship missile

For deck gun NNS ARADU had one 5 inch OTO Melara Otobreda 125/54 compact gun mounted forward and four twin-mounted Bofors 40 mm guns situated forward behind the 5-inch gun and to either side of the hangar.

aradu_l4.jpg
The unique Aradu is the most powerful warship in Africa, and the first of the MEKO series of warships, but she is likely to be retired soon

NNS Aradu also had six STWS-13 324 mm (13 in) torpedo tubes in two triple mounts located amidships on either side of the ship and one depth charge rack. Simply put it was the most powerfully armed warship the Nigerian Navy ever had.

The crown of the jewel was its Plessey AWS 5 air/surface search radar, Racal Decca 1226 navigation radar, Signaal STIR and WM 25 fire control radar and Atlas Elektronik hull-mounted sonar, The frigate mounts two chaff dispensers and Decca RDL-2 electronic support measures. For the first time a black country fielded one of the most sophisticated warship in the world.

STATUS

NNS Aradu have since been retired from service. However in 2017 Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ette Ibas, requested  $250 million dollars to refit NNS ARADU, for maritime operations.

He said that NNS ARADU is one of the three ships in the world with capabilities for simultaneous anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. The ship also has capability for electronic warfare and naval fire support.

According to him, the nation has faced a lot of ups and downs following series of attacks on national security infrastructure in the last few years.

“The consequences of which resulted to the drop in the nation’s revenue coming from oil but it was perfectly restored and we were able to contain the menace with the dedicated taskforce.”

The $250 million request for major repairs was turned down and the most powerful warship in Africa is left rusting away dockside.

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