The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) with the Round Table of Shipowner Associations Thursday, 10 expressed their full support for the launch of Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project to stamp out piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Reminiscing the June 10 event, Nigeria announced a significant investment in military and law enforcement infrastructure to secure its maritime domain as part of a stepping up of actions to address the ongoing piracy issue in the Gulf of Guinea.
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.
Among the assets commissioned for the task were two Special Mission vessels christened DB Abuja and Lagos assigned to complement actions against activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
Others were two special mission long- range aircraft, 17 fast-response vessels capable of speeds of 50 knots, three helicopters, and four airborne drones, providing round the clock, day-in, day-out cover for the region. These network of integrated assets are to be managed from a central command and control centre based in Lagos.
These assets are expected to complement the Yaoundé ICC structure offering real capability to both Nigeria and the region.
Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General commented: “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-19.
“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, added: “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 that 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,” she said.
“We thank the Nigerian authorities for recognising the issue and putting these measures in place – all within the constraints of the ongoing Covid-19 situation.”
Kostas Gkonis, Secretary General of INTERCARGO, reflected: “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.”
In conclusion Robert Drysdale, Managing Director of OCIMF, stated: “The launch of the Deep Blue Project marks a milestone of delivering state of the art, multi-faceted, maritime capability.
“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.”
Industry organisations are optimistic that the Deep Blue Project, coordinated with other navies and programmes through the mechanism of the GOG – Maritime Collaboration Forum/SHADE, will seriously impact on the ability of pirate groups to prey on merchant shipping.
Lens/Africa Ports and Ships