The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure – commonly called the Deep Blue Project – has been launched today by the Nigerian government as part of its fight against piracy and maritime crime in its waterways and the Gulf of Guinea.
A key asset in this struggle to improve maritime security will be the use of two Cessna Citation CJ3 maritime surveillance aircraft by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Bashir Jamoh, CEO of NIMASA, commented: “There has been a drastic decrease in the rate of security breaches in our waters in recent times. This is a clear indication that we are getting it right with the Deep Blue Project. The figures we are getting from the International Maritime Bureau are encouraging. We ultimately aim to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and business generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.”
Other assets to be used in the anti-piracy operations include three AW109 helicopters, four Tekever unmanned aerial vehicles, and six high speed boats.
On Monday it was revealed that nearly 100 maritime companies had signed BIMCO’s Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy, which is pushing for international assistance to eradicate the piracy threat in the region.
95% of all crew kidnaps last year took place in the Gulf of Guinea.
BIMCO said in a release earlier this week that it welcomes the positive steps taken by regional states, especially Nigeria. However, in reality, it will take some years before these states can effectively manage the problem. In the interim period BIMCO believes the best solution is to have capable military assets from able and willing non-regional states to actively combat piracy in the area in support of the efforts by countries in the region.
Yesterday a fishing vessel was attacked in the region with five crew kidnapped, the first kidnapping incident since March 15. This latest incident represents the furthest westerly kidnapping within the Gulf of Guinea to date.
Thus far this year there have been 56 personnel kidnapped across five incidents from vessels operating within the Gulf of Guinea.