NAVY THRILLS CIVILIANS AT SEA
It was thrills and fun for civilians who thronged the Nigerian Navy Base, Apapa, Lagos recently as they embarked on a trip to the high seas with the members of the force. The civilians who were drawn from different areas came with their families to celebrate with the force on its 54th anniversary.
No formal invitations were sent; it was just a media announcement. And these Nigerians defied the early morning rains and the end-of-the-month stay-at-home order to take a sea ride with the Nigerian Navy.
The idea of the sea trip, according to officials of the force, was to have the public feel what the force's personnel go through protecting the territorial integrity of the country, particularly its exclusive economic zone.
At 10am when the vessel, NNS Obula, cast off the NNS Beecroft Jetty in Apapa, it had over 100 passengers and crew, half of that number being civilians who wanted the sea experience. The rest were journalists invited to cover the event.
Many of those invited for the boat ride also came with their families and some who had a different perception of the navy had a rethink when the vessel set sail.
Before cast off, however, the Commanding Officer of the vessel, Captain Victor Adedipe had ordered the ship's crew to ensure the safety of the civilians onboard, particularly children who had come with their parents to enjoy the boat ride.
First, personnel onboard the ship had taken time to instruct the civilians on safety while onboard, handing out to them life jackets. They also took time to advise visitors on how to behave while onboard. And when the vessel had set sail, the visitor were told of the need to always have their life jackets on and stay where they would be protected.
'Man overboard,' as it is called within the force, is one thing most naval personnel fear, according to those who spoke with Daily Sun. This isn't because the force cannot afford a rescue operation in a situation of crisis but 'because prevention is better than cure.' And to prevent the ugly situation of 'man overboard,' the naval personnel took time to tell the visitors of the need to stay protected.
Apart from lessons on safety, empty polythene bags were distributed to everybody onboard to help those who might develop seasickness and throw up.
'They can do it inside the polythene bag and not just anywhere on the vessel,' Daily Sun was told.
But nobody threw up while the trip lasted as some of the experience seafarers advised the passengers to eat bitter cola to kill seasickness.
According to one of the naval personnel who spoke to Daily Sun, there are different ways to kill seasickness. 'One of the ways is that you do not eat anything containing palm oil or any cooked food before embarking on such journey,' he noted. Many of the passengers admitted that they had not eaten before embarking on the journey.
Commanding Officer of the vessel, NNS Obula, Navy Captain Victor Adedipe expressed happiness after the three-hour journey, especially when no casualty was recorded.
He told Daily Sun that the workings of the navy is not as easy as people think, explaining that the sea trip was just a glimpse into what happens in a few hours of the many days the vessel spends at sea protecting the country's oil facilities.
Similarly, Commodore James Oluwole, the Command Operations Officer, Western Naval Command, said the idea of the sea trip was to extend a hand of friendship to civilians who might not understand the workings of the navy and allow them have a feel of what the force go through while protecting the nation's assets at sea.
Some persons who spoke with Daily Sun after the trip said their perception for the navy had changed, adding that they could now understand that the force is properly engaged.