Friday, June 11, 2021

Nigerian Authorities Step Up the Fight Against Piracy and Kidnapping

Deep Blue Project Offers Resources to Fight the Criminal Gangs
Shipping News Feature

NIGERIA – The announcement this week that the government has launched its 'Deep Blue' project, a significant investment in military and law enforcement infrastructure to step up the fight against piracy and kidnapping from vessels in the region, has been met favourably by the global shipping and oil industry lobby.

A central command and control centre 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.

Managed by the Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA), the multi-agency project will significantly increase maritime security in the region, an area blighted by piracy, armed robbery, and other maritime crimes and the move was welcomed by the members of the Round Table of Shipowner Associations and OCIMF which have expressed their full support.

It is the hope of the industry organisations that Deep Blue, coordinated with other navies and programmes through the mechanism of the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) - Maritime Collaboration Forum/SHADE, will seriously impact on the ability of pirate groups to prey on merchant shipping, and Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General observed:

“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. 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.”

Other vested interests from the industry also praised the move, with David Loosley, BIMCO Secretary General, saying:

“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, it’s 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 she believed the launch was a tangible demonstration that the tide has turned against the criminals, thanking the Nigerian authorities for managing to institute the move even with the constraints of the pandemic, and Kostas Gkonis, Secretary General of INTERCARGO, said:

“Along with our sincere congratulations to the Nigerian authorities on the launch of this important initiative, on behalf of the dry bulk shipping sector, we very much anticipate that the Deep Blue Project will make a significant impact in reducing piracy and armed robbery, protecting seafarers, ships, and the essential trade that serves the peoples of countries in the region.”

The final word came from Robert Drysdale, Managing Director of OCIMF who said the launch of the Deep Blue Project marked a milestone of delivering state of the art, multi-faceted, maritime capability, continuing:

”It presents a great opportunity to protect seafarers and the maritime domain. The collaborative approach by all stakeholders to deliver Deep Blue is commendable and proves what can be achieved when all work together. OCIMF congratulates Nigerian authorities and welcomes this historical moment, Deep Blue will benefit, Nigeria, the region and all those who trade in the Gulf of Guinea waters.”