China completes sea trials for Nigerian OPV - IHS Jane's 360 A computer-generated image of the P-18N OPV on order from China. Photo: Nigerian Navy China has completed sea trials of a 95 m offshore patrol vessel (OPV) on order for the Nigerian Navy (NN), a Chinese state-run media outlet reported on 29 October. The vessel, with pennant number F 91, is the first of two P-18N OPVs acquired by the NN in March 2012 to bolster its maritime surveillance, patrolling, search-and-rescue (SAR), and counter-piracy capabilities. F 91 was launched by state-owned shipbuilder China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) in January 2014, and was taken for sea trials by affiliated shipyard Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry. The second OPV, F 92, is being built by CSOC in China but will be outfitted at the naval shipyard in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, in a technology transfer arrangement. According to specifications provided by CSOC, the P-18N has a full-load displacement of 1,800 tonnes and a top speed of approximately 21 kt. The vessel can accommodate 75 crew, has 20 days endurance, and a standard range of 3,000 n miles. A computer-generated image issued by the NN suggests that the OPV will have a helicopter hangar and landing deck. The weapons fit comprises a single 76 mm NG-16-1 gun with a TR47 fire-control radar, as well as pairs of 30 mm and 20 mm guns. The vessel's delivery date has yet to be confirmed, although Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Dele J Ezeobam told reporters in January 2014 that F 91 would be handed over by mid-2014. In 2011, then chief of navy Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim told a conference that Nigeria plans to acquire about 12 OPVs by 2020. COMMENT The NN is standing up to a host of challenges it faces in the Gulf of Guinea including petroleum smuggling, maritime piracy, and other criminal activities. Prior to 2009 before it commissioned the Sea Eagle-class patrol boats, the NN struggled to counter the often heavily armed pirates of West Africa. The purchase of two OPVs from China is the latest in a string of measures that the country is taking to wrest back control of its seas from these criminal groups.