Over the Past 50 years the Nigerian Navy has been blessed with 15 Chiefs of the Naval Staff
Captain Francis William Skutil
Head of the Nigerian Naval Force (1956 - 1958)

Captain Francis William Skutil was a man of action. ”The reformed Nigerian Marine Training Scheme of Seamen, cadets, apprentice craftsmen and engineers, is largely his brain child,” says historical records. He was disdainful of the Civilian-type maritime services when the Nigerian Marine was to be converted to the NPA. He had peppered the colonial government with plenty paperwork and personal contacts to ensure military-type naval service was established. His hard work and that of other ex-Royal Navy Officers was rewarded with the establishment of the Nigerian Naval Service in 1956

Commodore AR Kennedy
Head of the Nigerian Naval Force (1958 - 1964)

What was singularly impressive about Commodore Kennedy was the very long-range planning associated with his headship of the Navy. Way back in June 1958, he had raised the Defence Council Paper on “The Shape and Size of the Nigerian Navy” up to 1990. Leaders are Planners

Vice Admiral Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey, OFR FSS
First Nigerian Chief of the Naval Staff

A pioneer who, with his colleagues, took a good hard look at the geo-political location of Nigeria came up with plans on which to build a great Navy, which they pursued methodically, diligently and honestly.
Admiral Wey joined the Marine Department around 1940 as a technical apprentice to be trained as a Marine Engineer. At the end of the course in 1945, he served in all sea-going vessels of the Marine Department. In 1956 when the Navy was established he was transferred to the Navy as a Sub-Lieutenant
In March 1964, then a Commodore, he was appointed the first Nigerian to head the Navy. He was a super administrator, statesman and diplomat. He was head of he Navy at the critical time of the Nigerian Civil War. Perhaps he most remembered today by many for his gregariousness and humour. When he died on 12 December 1990, his burial was perhaps the first of its kind in Nigerian military history.

Rear Admiral Nelson Bossman Soroh, MFR FSS idc
Chief of the Naval Staff (January 1973 – July 1975)

Admiral Soroh might not have been the first head to head the Nigerian Navy, but he has his harvest of first. He was the first seaman officer to become the Chief of the Naval Staff; the first able to become a cadet in the whole West Africa; the African to be accepted for training at the Royal Navy for Sub-tech course with effect from 21 August 1958; the first Nigerian to command a warship when he was appointed to command HMNS KADUNA, taking over from an RN officer, Lieutenant Commander Walting from December 1960; the first black African to sail a warship from Europe and Nigeria. He was commanding officer of HMNS OGOJA which was sailed to Lagos 27 September 1963. He was the first commanding officer of the flagship of the NN NIGERIAN (later renamed OBUMA). He was the first senior to be appointed Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff and the appointment was made personal to him at a time when the CNS was absorbed almost totally in state matters. He was the first Admiral to publish his authobiography, A Sailor’s Dream adjudged to be a classic on the Nigerian Navy and leadership. He was even the first to start a naval magazine Anchors Aweigh.

Vice Admiral Michael Ayinde Adelanwa GCON FSS rcds
Chief of the Naval Staff (July 1975 – April 1980)

He was heir apparent. The two great men ahead of him mentored him. Admiral Wey, according to him, “was like a father to me. He was my mentor in administration and diplomacy. He offered me plenty of opportunities to learn. Then, Admiral Soroh was my professional mentor as a seaman Soroh was my professional mentor as a seaman officer.” Call him “Modest Mike,” if you wish in view of his low-profile lifestyle, Admiral Adenlawa joined the Nigerian Navy as a cadet in September 1958. He was trained in Dartmouth. His sea command included NNS OGOJA, NNS NIGERIA (after Admiral Soroh during the Civil War). He FOC WEST, Chief of Staff Naval Headquarters, considered No. 3 appointment in those days, after the positions o CNS, and FOC WEST. His headship of the Navy witnessed much acquisition of naval platforms and welfare programmes including the Navy Town, Ojo. Admiral Adelanwa today looks back and believes every effort should be made to ensure that the Navy goes to sea more. He advocates the need for long-range planning (5 to 10 years ahead), especially for ship acquisition, which has a long lead-time and programmatic approach to barrack building.

Vice Admiral A Akin Aduwo CFR FSS FBIM
Chief of the Naval Staff (April 1980 – December1983)

His career has always been characterized by boldness, toughness, ruggedness and a spirit of adventure. Even the ship he commanded during the Civil War, NNS OGOJA, was appropriately nick-name HOT IRON. Born June 9 1938, the Admiral was educated at Igbobi College, Lagos. He found his first job as a clerical officer so boring that he gave it up within a few months and drifted towards the sea, initially as a cadet in the Merchant Marines, courtesy of NPA sponsorship. He was also tempted to become a broadcaster, but was counseled by one Mr John Macmanus against promising career “just to idle behind some microphone,” according to his biography.
He transferred to Nigerian Navy in November 1962 as a Sub-Lieutenant. Admiral Aduwo was soon appointed Naval Officer-in-Charge (NOIC) Eastern Naval Patrol and later became the Commanding officer NNS ANANSA in 1964 as a Lieutenant. His other appointments include first Commanding Officer of NNS DORINA, first Nigerian Director of Armament Supply, Commanding Officer of NNS NIGERIA, and Military Governor of western state for one month. He was also Defence Adviser, India after which he went for a course at the Indian National Defence College, in 1977 he was promoted Commodore and appointed Flag Officer Commanding the Navy Fleet (then called the Nigerian Naval Flotilla), the appointment he held before he was sworn in on 15 April 1980 as he fourth Nigerian to become the Chief of the Naval Staff.
During the period he was CNS, a lot was done to tackle localization of training through the well-documented Nigerian Navy/Dornier Partnership (1982 - 1992). Other Initiatives were the building of the Finger Jetty at the Naval Base, the Marina Jetty, as well changing of the ensign, renaming of NNS BEECROFT to OLOKUN and NNS NIGERIA to OBUMA. A perfectionist, who had the slogan “WHY NOT THE BEST” prominently placed on his table as CNS, Admiral ADUWO ordered the Law of the Sea Seminar organized by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Port Harcourt in March 1981. This is to ensure that the Navy operates within the international maritime legal system.
During the period, (22 February 1983 to be precise) the NN and NIIA hosted the Workshop on “Smuggling and Coastal Piracy in Nigeria” at which Admiral James S Gracey, then Commandant of the US Coast Guard, came and later held discussion with the NN of all the parameters of the Policing duties of the Nigerian Navy and the assistance available from the US Coast Guard