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The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, has described the visit of the Portugal Naval Ship (PNS) SETUBAL as aimed at increasing maritime security in the region.

Gbassa told newsmen on Wednesday, in Lagos, during the visit of PNS SETUBAL to the command, that the visit would improve capacity along the Gulf of Guinea.

He said that security issues in the maritime environment had global impact as it affected the sea lanes where most of the trade were carried out.

“Nigeria and Portugal have a history of trade and most of our imports and exports are made through the sea. So, any of our foreign partners that we can reach out to and collaborate with to enhance our capacity to fight maritime insecurity issues is welcomed.

“Therefore, the trip by the PNS SEPTUGAL, falls under this purview for collaboration and expansion of capacity to be able to contain the threats within our maritime environment and enhance trade,” he said.

The FOC said that the Nigerian Navy (NN)  had hosted some foreign naval ships over the past two years.

“First, we started with the exercise Orbangame Express where eight navies, from eight other nations, joined us for an exercise to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

“This was followed by the Spanish Naval Ship FUROR and now we have the Portuguese as our visitors,” he said, while emphasising that no single entity could assure security within any environment.

“So, it was always a great pleasure to have the support of our foreign partners, which can be in the form of trainings or visits.

“We hope that our interaction will lead to better cooperation between the two nations, to the extent that your interest within our shores will be protected the same way your government will reciprocate ours.

“We want to continue in the areas of collaboration, trainings and exchange programmes, to enhance and improve our capacity to contain threats that emerge within our maritime environment,” he said.

In his response, Lt.-Cdr. Dias Marques, the Commanding Officer, PNS, SETUBAL, said that it was important to improve maritime security in Nigeria and the region, in order to protect the trade interests of the two countries.

“Portugal is an economic friend of Nigeria and we import a lot of goods from Nigeria and other African countries, so it is important that we collaborate to increase maritime security in the region.

“We have been working with our friends in the region and we have done a lot of exercises, which has increased the skills of the sailors in the countries that we have visited,” he said.

Marques said the PNS SETUBAL was happy to be in Nigeria and would be looking forward to working with the Nigerian navy to increase skills and build capacity for a better secured maritime domain.

The report was that a plaque of honour was presented as birthday gifts to two of the Portuguese officers; Lt. Jose Nobre and Lt. Pedro Santana, whose birthdays coincided with their visit to the command.