African Ship Joins the Australian Fleet Review: A Former USCG Cutter Continues Its Service Life


2013-09-26 by Kim Helfrich

Editor’s Note: In another way to understand the 1,000 Ship Navy, this article discusses the role of a Nigerian ship globally which comes from the transfer of a former USCG cutter. 

NNS Thunder, Africa’s only representative in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) international fleet review, has ported in Jervis Bay ahead of the review that starts next Thursday.

The Nigerian ship left her home port of Calabar on August 2 and made port calls at Luanda, Cape Town, Port Louis and Fremantle en route to Jervis Bay where she joins up with at least 25 other warships participating in the review.

The review commemorates the centenary of the first ever entry of a RAN ship into Sydney. The selection of Jervis Bay as the assembly point for the international fleet taking part in the review is of historical significance because it follows the navigational path the first Australian fleet of seven warships took prior to entering Sydney Harbour on October 4, 1913. That fleet comprised HMAS Australia (flagship), cruisers HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Sydney and HMAS Encounter and the destroyers HMAS Warrego, Parramatta and Yarra.

Thunder was acquired by the Nigerian Navy late in 2011 as an excess defense article under the US Foreign Assistance Act.

She was previously the US Coast Guard cutter Chase (WHEC-718).

USCG Cutter Chase (WHEC-718). Credit USCG
USCG Cutter Chase (WHEC-718). Credit USCG

Once the review, the single largest maritime event of the year, is concluded, Thunder will depart for her home port stopping at Melbourne, Albany, Port des Galet, Durban, Walvis Bay and Pointe Noire before coming alongside in Calabar on December 18.

Navies that have accepted invitations to the RAN international fleet review are Royal Brunei Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, People’s Liberation Army Navy, French Navy, Indian Navy, Indonesian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force, Royal Malaysian Navy, Federated States of Micronesia Maritime Police Unit, Royal New Zealand Navy, Papua New Guinea Defence Force – Maritime Operations Element, Republic of Singapore Navy, Spanish Navy, Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Thai Navy, Russian Navy, Tongan Defence Services – Maritime Force, the Royal Navy and the US Navy.

Host country Australia will have 19 of its warships in the review lead by HMAS Sydney, one of four guided missile frigates in its fleet. Other RAN maritime assets in the review include fisheries protection vessels, amphibious heavy lifters, submarines, Anzac Class frigates, a Bay Class landing ship dock, minehunters, heavy landing craft and survey and hydrographic vessels.

From our partner: DefenceWeb

Editor’s Note: It has been brought to our attention that the Nigerian ship had an inauspicious beginning when it arrived in Nigeria.

In March 2012:

A Nigerian Navy vessel, NNS Thunder, collided with a vessel owned by Total at approximately 15:00hrs yesterday, Tuesday. the incident happened approximately 5 miles up river from Bonny.

The Total vessel capsized.

One man – a member of the Navy – is reported missing in this incident.

Another vessel belonging to Bourbon was first on the scene and secured the Total vessel to its side.

Search aircraft and other support vessels were immediately dispatched

The search was ongoing until 22:00hrs last night and resumed at first light this morning.

Sources close to the emergency response teams are reporting that the Navy appear to have been at fault and were responsible for the impact which left the Total vessel on its side.

Divers cut a hole in the hull freeing one crew member trapped onboard.

The stricken vessel is a small patrol craft owned by Total but crewed and operated by a well company which operates many supply boats and other craft in the region.

The photo below captures the result: