The Eastern Naval Command has officially rounded off the year 2019 with a ceremonial ‘sunset’ at the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory parade ground in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, south-south Nigeria.
‘Sunset’ also known as Retreat Call, is a solemn ceremony, which involves the bugle call as well as lowering and hoisting of flags signals the end of a day and ushers in a new day.
In this case, the ceremonial sunset marked the end of 2019 and has ushered in 2020 for officers and men of the Eastern Naval Command, ENC.
The occasion was attended by other service chiefs, members of the host community, stakeholders in the maritime industry, families and friends of the navy including a retired officer, who was the special guest of honour, Rear Admiral Ekpenyong Okpo.
Rear Admiral Okpo commended the command for its sterling achievements in keeping with the vision and mission of the Chief of Naval Staff.
Okpo, who lauded the ENC for successfully conducting series of operations and administrative functions within the year, stated “In line with the CNS strategic guidelines with a view to ensuring maritime security, and ultimately economic prosperity, I am gladdened that you improved your patrol efforts to reduce activities of illegal bunkers, illegal refinery operations as well as anti-pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, and more”.
“Other areas are the anti-smuggling activities, anti-piracy and sea robbery. Your efforts led to the arrest of 8 vessels, 145 large wooden boats, 320 persons and the seizure of 19,989 metric tons of petroleum products as well as 30, 843.8 metric tons of crude oil”, he noted.
He further stated, “The command also destroyed 128 illegal refineries between January and November 2019. I must also commend the ENC for the successful conduct of ‘Exercise Yangha Mi 2019’. I, therefore, encourage you to keep it up.”
Rear Admiral Okpo celebrated the FOC, Rear Admiral David Adeniran, other officers and ratings for the teamwork, saying “I must commend your professionalism, integrity, teamwork, and unyielding commitment, which assisted the Eastern Naval Command to successful under take these series of operations within her area of responsibility.”
While urging the personnel not to relent in its effort to secure the maritime territory of Nigeria, the special guest of honour, acknowledged the performance of ships from the eastern fleet, which were part of the task group at the multi-million national sea exercise code names “Grand African Nemo 2019” conducted in October with the French Navy.
Earlier, Commodore Vincent Okeke, the Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, Victory, emphasized the importance of the ceremonial sunset to officers and ratings, noting that the event marked the end of year activities for units and establishments under the command.
Commodore Okeke hinted that the ceremonial sunset provides opportunity to foster a cordial relationship between the officers and men of the command, sister services agencies and friends of the Nigerian Navy.
According to him, “the ceremonial sunset is one of the naval traditions observed worldwide aimed at fostering friendship and espirit de corps”, stressing “military ethics are best sustained when the traditions are kept at all levels especially at the command level”.
He congratulated the Flag Officer Commanding for the cherished opportunity to observe this year’s celebration and advised young officers to view the event as such that would enable them sustain ethics of the profession.
“For the young officers, this occasion would assist you in sustaining the ethics as they are binding forces that make the naval profession so unique from other professions. I will not fail to urge you to uphold these good tenets of the Nigerian Navy and subordinate yourselves to constituted democratic civil authorities”, stressed Okeke.
The event, which started at 6 o’ clock in the evening and dovetailed in to the night, also featured a parade and display of fireworks.