The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) yesterday presented Chukwuemeka Ebenezer Okafor, Rear Admiral and former Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy, the 2023 Alexander Dalrymple Award for services to international hydrography.

Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Ebenezer Okafor receiving the Alexander Dalrymple Award from Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh

Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Ebenezer Okafor receiving the Alexander Dalrymple Award from Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh

During a ceremony led by UK National Hydrographer, Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh OBE, at the International Maritime Organization headquarters in London, Rear Admiral Okafor received the award as the 2023 recipient during a dinner gathering, also attended by the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Cyprian Heen, as well as close family and friends.

The Alexander Dalrymple Award committee acknowledged Rear Admiral Okafor’s advancements and contributions to the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO) during his tenure as Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy. Under Rear Admiral Okafor’s leadership, the NNHO has become the first West African Hydrographic Office to support and operate its own hydrographic survey fleet.

The accomplishments of Rear Admiral Okafor for the NNHO have heightened the strategic importance of hydrography in Nigeria. This foundation will deliver profound economic and social advantages, not only nationally but also throughout the region, positioning Nigeria as an example for other West African countries to emulate.

Commenting on the award, Rear Admiral Angus Essenhigh, UK National Hydrographer, UKHO, said:

It is with great pleasure we present this award to Rear Admiral Okafor, for his lasting contributions to hydrography. We recognise his enduring influence on the Nigerian Navy through his leadership as Nigeria’s National Hydrographer for 32 years. He becomes the latest recipient in a long and illustrious list of some of the world’s most influential hydrographers.

Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Ebenezer Okafor, Former National Hydrographer of the Nigerian Navy added:

I’m honoured to accept this award from the UK Hydrographic Office. The UKHO’s efforts are paramount to ensuring the safety of maritime operations and preserving the dynamic marine ecosystems upon which we depend. With 32 years of service in the Nigerian Navy, I have always believed passionately in Nigeria’s commitment to hydrography and charting. I have seen first-hand how powerful hydrographic information can be if it is placed in the right hands. I am convinced that sustainability of the current level of hydrographic development in Nigeria will unlock her Blue Economy potential for the common good of all its citizens.

Alongside improved data collection capability, led by Rear Admiral Okafor, the NNHO has also started to produce Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) and paper chart coverage of Nigerian waters, meeting stringent international standards to earn recognition as an INT chart producer – a globally recognised mark of competency. This started by producing charts in the Lagos Harbour Area and is now expanding to wider parts of Nigeria.

With this impressive charting capability and the recent publication of two nautical publications, Nigeria is well placed to provide accurate and up-to-date hydrographic services across its waters. Notably, this encompasses a significant project to survey and chart the Lower River Niger from Lokoja to Burutu.

The Alexander Dalrymple Award, named in honour of the inaugural Hydrographer of the British Admiralty, has been presented annually by the UK Hydrographic Office since 2006, acknowledging exceptional contributions to the field of hydrography. Recipients are chosen by the UKHO’s Executive Committee for their dedication to advancing hydrography, cartography, and navigation standards worldwide.

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