President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also known as the Deep Blue Project.
Prior 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, conducted simulation exercises on land, air, and sea to confirm the project’s readiness for full deployment.
According to Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, “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.
“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. The main objective of the Deep Blue Project is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea. The Project will 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 armored 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.