The Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) announced the acquisition of assets for the Deep Blue Project launching formally this month. The project is aimed at protecting Nigeria’s waters from the recent spike in piracy attacks.
NIMASA boss, Dr Bashir Jamoh announced the acquisition of special mission aircraft, including three Special Mission Helicopters at the Naval Base, Apapa. He added that the attacks on Nigeria’s maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) have reduced with the deployment of the Deep Blue assets.
“This is a clear indication that we are getting it right with the Deep Blue Project,” he said.
“The figures we are getting from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) are encouraging. We ultimately aim to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and business generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.
IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is the global focal point in the fight against maritime crimes and malpractices.
The latest IMB quarterly report of piracy and armed robbery against ships recorded only two incidents in Nigerian waters between January and March this year, compared to 11 attacks within the same period last year.
These figures are proof that we can make our waters safe and secure, and we are determined to do so,” he added.
The assets announced by the FG include:
- The land assets comprising the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol; and about 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit.
- Air assets include two Special Mission Aircrafts for surveillance of the EEZ, one of which was received on May 12 with the second expected to arrive May 18; three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
- The sea assets consist of two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.
What you should know
West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea recorded an unprecedented increase in piracy attacks in 2020, according to the International Maritime Bureau in its 2020 Annual Piracy report. The IMB reported that 135 crew members were kidnapped from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% of cases. A record of 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents.