The United States navy has officially transferred the former Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin into the hands of the Nigerian navy. The vessel is now known as the NNS Okpabana (Thunder).
A crowd of Nigerian navy officers, United States coast guardsmen and other visitors gathered on a pier at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston, United States for a ceremony recognizing the transfer of ownership on Wednesday May 7, 2014. Taps played hauntingly in the background as the U.S. flag was lowered and then replaced by that of Nigeria.
While addressing the gathered crowd, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Bruce Baffer extolled the strength of the Gallatin, which was built in a Louisiana shipyard and commissioned in 1969. It aided in the seizure of thousands of pounds of narcotics from international waters while assisting in search and rescue missions, disaster relief and Homeland Security patrols, Baffer said.
The Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro who received the vessel on behalf of Nigeria, thanked the Coast Guard for their consistent support. The additional vessel will strengthen Nigeria’s ability to combat terrorism and illegal activity, he said. “I am glad to know that American support has greatly enhanced the capacity of the Nigerian navy,” he said.
The ceremony concluded as members of the Nigerian navy filed onto the vessel taking command of the ship.