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Home ✔Career Nigerian Navy: Roles & Functions, History and Facts

Nigerian Navy: Roles & Functions, History and Facts

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This post provides information on the roles and functions of the Nigerian navy, along with a brief history.

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The Nigerian Navy (NN) is part and parcel of the Nigerian Armed Forces, which is arguably the largest military body on the African continent.

The NN commands thousands of personnel from all corners of the country, and the number keeps growing.

Generally, many people find it difficult to pinpoint what the functions of the Nigerian Navy are, hence all they can do is guess.

If you have the ambition to one day become part of the largest Naval force in Africa, then you should at least know what activities and interests you’ll be defending.

Aside from that, knowing more about one’s country is never a bad idea.

Brief history of the Nigerian Navy

The term ‘Nigerian Navy’ was introduced in 1963, and has been in use ever since. But before then it was called Nigerian Marine and Royal Nigerian Navy.

The Nigerian Marine traces as far back as 1914. It was formed shortly after the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria.

Formerly, the Northern and Southern protectorate both had their respective Marines. However, after the amalgamation of Nigeria, a merger became imperative.

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The Nigerian Marine became defunct in 1959, after Queen Elizabeth permitted the use of the title ‘Royal Nigerian Navy’.

The Royal Nigerian Navy (RNN) owed its title to the British colonial masters, who were at that point in charge of several administrative affairs. Consequently, the title RNN had to be dropped after the Nation became a republic in 1963.

In other words, the Nigerian Navy that we know now came into existence 1963. It has, however, undergone several constitutional reforms ever since, and will most likely continue to undergo reforms.

Roles and functions of the Nigerian Navy

Naval Defence of Nigeria

Obviously, the first and most basic responsibility of any Navy is the naval defence of its country. Similarly, the NN is tasked with the defense of the nation from any potential treats within its domain.

The nation is bounded by large waters, notably the Atlantic ocean. And through such water channels, attacks could be launched at the nation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the NN to ensure the safety of the nation from such threats.

Apart from external threats, internal threats are also taken into cognizance in the naval defence of Nigeria.

Cost guard duties

The NN is also tasked with the responsibility of assisting in enforcement of Customs laws, making hydrographic surveys, and training officers and men in naval duties.

Military duties

The aforementioned roles are expedient of all naval forces, therefore there was a push for the amendment of the constitutions surrounding the NN.

The request yielded fruit in 1993, and from then the NN got an increased military and constabulary responsibility, especially in the oil and gas sectors of the Nigerian maritime economy.

Further military functions include force projection and balance of power.


The ranks in the NN are divided into two groups namely commissioned officers rank and non-commissioned officers rank.

The 12 ranks of commissioned officers are listed below:

  • Admiral of the Fleet (Highest rank)
  • Admiral
  • Vice-Admiral
  • Rear Admiral
  • Commodore
  • Captain
  • Commander
  • Lieutenant Commander
  • Lieutenant
  • Sub-Lieutenant
  • Acting Sub-Lieutenant
  • Mid-Shipman

Here are the Non-Commissioned Personnel ranks

  • Warrant Chief Petty Officer
  • Chief Petty Officer
  • Petty Officer
  • Leading Rating
  • Able Rating
  • Ordinary Rating
  • Trainee

The ranks listed above are arranged from the highest to the lowest.

Read also:

Of the ranks listed above, the serving officer with the highest rank is awarded Chief of naval staff.

Which means, chief of naval staff can be achieved without necessarily attaining Admiral of the fleet rank.

Nigerian navy uniforms

The NN has 3 uniforms namely Liberty Rig, Working Rig, and Carmo. All the aforementioned uniforms are used for different purposes and can be differentiated using their colours and looks.

  • Liberty Rig: This is the white uniform provided to all naval officers, and is worn mostly while on administrative duties.
  • Working Rig: The working Rig, as the name implies is used by Naval officials during field works. It is usually Blue in color (navy blue).
  •  Camouflage: The Navy Camouflage, or Carmo as some prefer to call it, is worn by the naval officials during combined military duties with other armed forces.

Quick facts about the Nigerian Navy

In case you missed some of the points listed in this lengthy piece, here are a few quick facts you must take note of. More so if you’re preparing for an interview.

  • The serving officer with the highest rank is usually award Chief of naval staff.
  • The first chief of Naval Staff was Captain F.W Skutil; he held that title for just two years from 1956 to 1958.
  • The motto of the Nigerian Navy is ‘onward together
  • The three operational commands are The Western Naval Command, The Eastern Naval Command, and The Central Naval Command.
  • The NN was engaged in several high profile activities including Nigerian Civil War, First Liberian Civil War, Sierra Leone Civil War, Conflict in the Niger Delta, among others.
  • It is considered one of — if not the largest Naval force on the African continent.
  • Officers in the Nigerian Navy are provided with three uniforms which are Liberty Rig, Working Rig and Camouflage.

Joining the Nigerian Navy

Virtually every year, recruitment exercises take place in a bid to replace retirees. Generally, there are two options available to applicants depending on their qualifications; they are, regular recruitment and Direct Short Service Commissions (DSSC).

The regular recruitment exercise is targeted at O’Level, OND and other equivalent certificate holders, while the DSSC is aimed at recruiting Degree and HND holders.

If you’re interested in applying for the Nigerian Navy, read our guide for the different recruitment types:

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Our Health, Educational, Career journals, and the likes are not intended to serve as substitutes for professional advice. Therefore, we urge you to consult an appropriate professional before making any decision.


  1. good day. I olorunfade musa jimoh i will like to among of navy in nageria. Pls when are day going to open there link. I we like to know pls.

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