As part of a stepping up of actions to address the ongoing piracy issue in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria, has today announced a significant investment in military and law enforcement infrastructure to secure its maritime domain.
Called the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure framework, it is also known as the Deep Blue Project (DBP) and was first announced several years ago.
Managed by the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA), the multi-agency project aims to significantly increase maritime security in the region which has long been plagued by piracy, armed robbery, and other maritime crimes.
A central command and control center based in Lagos will oversee a network of integrated assets including two special mission vessels, two special mission long-range aircraft, 17 fast-response vessels capable of speeds of 50 knots, three helicopters, and four airborne drones, providing 24/7 cover for the region. These complement the Yaounde ICC structure offering real capability to both Nigeria and the region.
The Round Table of Shipowner Associations and OCIMF (Oil Companies International Marine Forum) have expressed their full support for the project.
“The Deep Blue Project can be a game-changer in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and we congratulate Nigeria in launching the project despite the significant difficulties presented by COVID,” said Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, “We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to realise our shared vision of a region free from the threat of piracy and armed robbery.”
David Loosley, BIMCO Secretary General, said “Deep Blue becoming operational represents a significant opportunity to expand law and order at sea in cooperation with international forces in the area. We look forward to seeing Nigeria make the best of these assets to the benefit of Nigeria, its citizens and economy, and of course the seafarers from all over the world going about their daily business in the Gulf of Guinea.”
Katharina Stanzel, Managing Director of INTERTANKO, said: “INTERTANKO believes that the launch of the Deep Blue Project is a tangible demonstration that the tide has turned against the scourge of piracy. This project has the potential to greatly contribute to seafarers being once again able to carry out their duties without fear for their safety.”