*Simulation Exercises On-going
All is now set for the unveiling of the assets under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also known as the Deep Blue Project.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to formally unveil it on Thursday June 10, 2021 in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos.
A statement issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Philip Kyanet stated that preparatory to the launch, the Maritime Security Unit (MSU) of the Deep Blue Project, comprising personnel from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, and Department of State Services, are conducting simulation exercises for the event on the land, air, and sea assets of the project to confirm their readiness for full deployment.
According to the statement which was made available to Maritime Bits, it is worthy of note that the various military formations in the region are aware of the exercise. While this exercise is on-going, members of the public, especially those living in coastal communities, are advised to remain calm, as this exercise is only meant to test the readiness of the assets.
Kyanet quoted the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh saying that with the deployment of the assets of the Deep Blue Project, we are entering another level of national security designed for total spectrum maritime security and better domain awareness using some of the latest technology.
According to Jamoh, this effort to secure our waters would give Nigerians more leverage to harness the enormous resources of our maritime environment and aid the drive towards economic diversification.”
The project which was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defence is being implemented by NIMASA.
Maritime Bits had reported that its main objective is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). It also has three categories of platforms to tackle maritime security on land, sea, and air.
The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol; and 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit. The sea assets include two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats. The air assets comprise two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
The Deep Blue Project is the first integrated maritime security strategy in West and Central Africa with the aim of tackling the incidences of piracy, sea robbery, and other crimes at sea.
While prosecution of suspected criminals used to be a challenge, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act passed by the 9th National Assembly would now provide a legal backing for prosecution and punishment of offenders.