Thunder enjoyed down under during International Fleet Review

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Topic(s): International Fleet Review

Nigerian sailors Able Seaman Yusuf Korau, Sub Lieutenant Gideon Gwaza and Petty Officer Emmanuel Solomo on NNS Thunder in Sydney for the International Fleet Review. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
Nigerian sailors Able Seaman Yusuf Korau, Sub Lieutenant Gideon Gwaza and Petty Officer Emmanuel Solomo on NNS Thunder in Sydney for the International Fleet Review.

Africa was represented at the International Fleet Review (IFR) by just one ship, but that ship has a history any navy crew could be proud of.

Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Thunder, a former Hamilton-class US Coast Guard cutter was gifted to the Nigerian Navy in 2011, after a comprehensive refit.

As USCGC Chase, NNS Thunder saw service on Operation MARKET TIME during the Vietnam War, participating in more than 12 gunfire support missions over 1969-70.

She later participated in Operation URGENT FURY, the US invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983.

Petty Officer Fire Control 1 Emmanuel Solomo, who has completed 16 years naval service, said he was “very, very proud” of his ship’s long history.

He said what he liked most about the trip to Sydney were the fireworks and the International Fleet Review itself.

“I also gained a lot of experience that will help me in my career,” he said.

Watch-keeping Officer Sub Lieutenant Gideon Gwaza said the long voyage from Nigeria would “help to consolidate on, and solidify, the foundation of my career.

“No doubt with the experience gained I stand a better chance of becoming a navigation specialist in the Navy.”

SBLT Gwaza said Sydney had proven to be a remarkable place, “and indeed my favourite port.

“The weather is perfect and the terrain and environment are remarkable,” he said.

“The people of Sydney are very friendly and warm.”

Able Seaman Yusuf Korau, a nurse and sailor for almost 12 years, said he was proud to be a part of history in the making.

“This is the longest voyage ever by a Nigerian Navy ship,” he said.

“The thing I enjoyed most on the voyage was the ceremony on crossing the equator because, as a sailor, it is assumed when you cross the equator you become a sea lord.”

AB Korau said he had watched the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games on television.

“And today I am in Sydney, and the view is lovely and the people are good and loving people,” he said.

AB Korau hopes to one day become a chief nursing officer in the Nigerian Navy.

Imagery of NNS Thunder's IFR visit is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library.