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1.          The advancements in science and technology has had an outstanding impact on the activities of man particularly since the early twentieth century.[1] The advancement has resulted in some radical transformation in man’s life and has revolutionized several aspect of man’s civilization. This is evident in man’s achievements in areas like computer technology, medicine, energy, transportation, building, military advancement, and space technology, among others.[2] In the field of space technology, manmade exceptional breakthrough with the first landing on the moon.[3]

2.          Although the crave for space exploration was spurred by the competitiveness during the Cold War between the United States (US) and the defunct Union of Soviet  Socialist Republic it invariably created a platform for the advancement in space technology.[4]  Since then, the development of space technology has positively impacted several aspect of human development from the weather to the advancements in communication and defence systems. Owing to the benefit of space technology, advanced countries such as Japan, United Kingdom and the US have continued to commit huge investment to research in space technology. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the Financial Year 2011 about 572.2 million US Dollars has been budgeted for space technology development activities.[5] A substantial amount of this budget plan is for research in space technology for defence need.

3.          The adaptation of space technology especially for military use has had enormous impact on   defence capabilities of super power nations.[6] Some of the advancement in the military includes the guided missiles, missile warning alert, weather, chart updates and high capacity military communication system. Despite these achievements the artificial satellite remains a major breakthrough in the exploration of space technology. The use of satellite, among other applications, is essential for effective conduct of military operations particularly in the air and maritime environment.[7]

4.     Space technology in maritime operations creates a great capacity for any littoral nation to manage its waterways effectively as it relate to national security.[8]  It is also necessary for prompt and reliable information transmission, monitoring of deep sea platforms and offshore installations in maritime operations.[9] This has made navies of some African countries like South Africa, Algeria and Egypt to tap into their respective space based national assets to enhance the conduct of their maritime operations.

5.     The development of space technology in Nigeria has also been considerably progressive since 1999.[10] This eventually led to the establishment of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in the same year. NASRDA, in September 2003 launched the first Nigerian earth observation satellite known as the Nigeria-Sat 1.[11] This satellite is currently used for aerial imagery and communications. There has been attempt to link the Nigerian Armed Forces with the space programme. Consequently, a committee was set up at DHQ to study the National Space Policy and Programmes (NSPP) as it concerns the Armed Forces. However, no action has been taken to implement the committee’s report.

6.     The application of space technology in military operations, especially in maritime operations, has the potential to greatly improve the performance of NN’s military and policing roles. This is more so as the NN has increasingly found it difficult to effectively patrol the wide sea area of Nigerian maritime environment and to check illegal activities perpetrated therein. This therefore, stressed the need for the NN to seek for ways to take advantage of the benefits of space technology at its present state in Nigeria. The NN, like in the case of some African navies, stands to benefit greatly from this space project with regard to its use in maritime operations.

7.     The purpose of this paper therefore is to discuss the employment of space technology towards improving NN maritime operations. This paper will first look at the conduct of the Nigerian Navy maritime operations. Thereafter, the Nigeria space policy framework will be discussed. Additionally, the paper will discuss the employment of space technology in maritime operations and the challenges facing employment of space technology in NN maritime operations. Lastly, the paper will proffer the way forward. Space technology could be employed in support of maritime operation to achieve space control, space support and force enhancement. However, this paper would only consider the force enhancement roles of space technology. This is because force enhancement application is the simplest and most viable for the NN. It is assumed that the Nigerian Government would sustain current drive in the development of space technology.


8.     The aim of this paper is to examine the employment of space technology in NN maritime operations with a view to making recommendations.


9.     The NN conduct its operations over a relatively wide expanse of sea area, which is about 84,000 sq nm[12]. In this area are found numerous living and non living resources of immense value to the economy of the nation[13]. Nigeria’s sea area is also a beehive of maritime activities as it is the hub of trade in the West African Sub-region. Needless to say, the prospect of Nigerian maritime environment attracts both well meaning and criminally minded people. The activities of these criminals such as smuggling, illegal bunkering and oil theft, piracy/sea robbery and illegal fishing result in several threats to Nigeria’s economy and national security. The appreciation of the extent of Nigeria maritime environment and the threats therein informs how NN conduct its maritime operations. This will be discussed under the NN organisational structure, NN force structure and NN Maritime Domain Awareness effort.



10.   The NN is organised into 2 operational commands to provide adequate coverage for Nigeria’s vast maritime area. These are the Western and Eastern Naval Commands with their headquarters located at Lagos and Calabar respectively. The 2 operational commands are supported by Naval Training Command (NAVTRAC) in terms of training and Naval Logistics Command in terms of logistics.

11.   The operational commands control the activities of operations bases and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) in providing security to the Nigerian maritime environment.  The FOBs are meant to reduce reaction time and increase time on task of NN platforms. Additionally, they would reduce the logistics supply chain between NN vessels deployed for patrol duties and their bases. However, most of the FOBs lack the necessary support facilities and can therefore not achieve the objective for which they were established. Thus, the Nigerian maritime environment is neither sufficiently defended nor policed.  Map of Nigerian Maritime Environment is at Annex A.  Organisational Structure of the Nigerian Navy Command is at Annex B


12.   In order to support the command’s effort in maintaining security within Nigerian maritime environment, the NN has a fleet of ships and other platforms. The Nigerian Navy Fleet comprises various boats, ships and helicopters. The Fleet represent a fairly mixed class of ships. The major ones are categorized as combat maritime vessels, sealift capability forces, auxiliary vessels and Naval Air Arm[14]. The NN Fleet at present consists of ships which include Frigates, Corvettes; Fast Attack Crafts (FAC), Buoy tenders and Landing Ships Tanks (LST). Others are Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMV), River Town Patrol Crafts and Auxiliaries.  The boats include patrol boats, Inshore Patrol Craft (IPC) and Jedi Boats.  The auxiliaries are the tugs and a survey ship.  The helicopters include the Agusta 109E and AB 206 that are organic to the Naval Air Arm.

13.   However, the present NN force structure revealed that NN is incapable of maintaining effective presence at sea. This is because the logistics vessels required extending operational range and endurance of the NN fleet is lacking. Another problem militating against effective patrol of Nigerian maritime environment is operational constraints borne out of poor operational state of the available NN platforms and inadequate platforms. Many of the available platforms are old and non operational while the few operational platforms are not sufficient to police the vast sea area. The poor operational state of the NN platforms could be attributed partly to the weak indigenous technological base of the Country.  the NN rely more on the western countries for supply of spares and maintenance support. The cost of these services is enormous which the NN is finding difficult to meet up with in the face of dwindling federal Government allocation.

14.   Consequently the NN could not carry out effective maintenance on the ships which to poor operational state of the NN fleet. This could only be ameliorated with improved indigenous technological base.     The NN in an effort to increase its Fleet acquired of 4 US Coast Guard Class boats and 6 Augusta helicopters[15], Also 15 new Defender Class boats were acquired between 2004 and 2008. This acquisition has not significantly translated to effective patrol especially beyond the territorial waters.  In addition, the NN inventory lacks Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to sustain continuous presence at sea and Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPAs) for early warning and effective surveillance . This situation has further compounded the problem of lack of effective monitoring of the Nigerian maritime environment and necessitate the application of Maritime Domain Awareness    (MDA) in NN maritime operations.    The NN Force Structure is at Annex C.


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