The Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has taken delivery of two Special Mission Vessels (SMV) under the Deep Blue Project to further boost the fight against criminal activities in the Country’s waters.
The vessels were recently received in Lagos and are equipped with sophisticated intelligence gathering capability for timely detection and response to illegal activities in the Nigerian maritime domain.
Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral, Ibok Ibas said piracy is an act that is inimical to the growth of the Nigerian maritime sector.
According to him, “…we are prepared, more than ever before, to give it all it takes to end this nefarious act.”
Ibas, who was represented by Chief Security Officer, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral M. M. Bashir stated that officers who would man the vessels will be given adequate training under the Deep Blue Project so that the special features of the vessels can be adequately utilised to combat maritime illegalities.
On his part, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside said pirates and other criminalities on the country’s maritime domain up to the Gulf of Guinea, would soon meet their waterloo with the arrival and installation of critical assets under the Deep Blue Project.
Dakuku, who was represented by the Agency’s Executive Director Operations, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, disclosed that aside from these two special mission vessels, 10 Fast Interceptor Boats have also arrived in the country and seven more are expected later in the year.
“Today marks a new dawn for a more secure and stable maritime environment in Nigeria. This milestone in asset delivery inches us closer to the full operational take-off of the Deep Blue Project, hence it marks a huge victory for the Nigerian maritime sector in the fight against maritime insecurity,” he said.
The DG explained that the Deep Blue Abuja and Deep Blue Lagos, which are built to be intelligently operated, also serve as mother vessels for Fast Intervention crafts that can respond to distress calls swiftly.
According to him, “Each of the interceptor boats has a combined engine capacity of 900HP and can do up to 55knots.”
He also said that each of the vessels would be commanded by a Navy captain with the full complement of naval personnel.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a holistic maritime security architecture which is a multi-pronged approach towards fighting piracy. Aside from the sea assets, there are also land and air assets which are still expected in the country before the end of the year.
NIMASA also operates a Command and Control Centre at the Regional Maritime Resource Coordination Centre (RMRCC) which is also part of the Deep Blue Project.
Giving a breakdown of the assets installed under the Deep Blue Project at a press conference in Lagos recently, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi revealed that a good number of assets have arrived in the country.
The Transport Minister also hinted that the first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of the first quarter of the year while six armoured personnel carriers were already in the country and the first unmanned aerial vehicle is expected soon.