Against the background of declining piracy incidences in Nigerian waters in recent times, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas has prescribed pragmatic measures for ship owners and seafarers to adopt in order to improve their safety and security at sea. Speaking through the Chief of Policy and Plans Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo at the West African Shipping Summit held today at the ongoing International Shipping Week in London, Admiral Ibas adviced seafarers and ship owners to employ evasive manoeuvres, optimal speed, use of citadels, use of Safe Anchorage Areas and convoy protection where available.
He told the audience that as buttressed by the International Maritime Bureau, there have been a progressive decline in the number of piracy attacks with most of these attacks not being successful, noting that, the decline in successful attacks was as a result of Nigerian Navy’s (NN) intensified efforts at securing Nigeria’s maritime environment. Notwithstanding, the fact that successful piracy attacks occasionally occur in Nigerian waters and indeed the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), the CNS called for more proactive actions by the NN and stakeholders in order to rid Nigeria’s maritime environment of all forms of criminalities.
Admiral Ibas observed that most of the issues involved in the security of Nigeria’s maritime domain stem from non-military causes which usually manifest in the form of sea robbery or piracy, economic crimes and theft of hydrocarbon resources as well as other transnational organized crimes. He then reaffirmed NN’s efforts at emplacing a viable domain for maritime business to thrive by highlighting some NN independent operational engagements established to check criminality at sea which include Op TSARE TEKU an anti-piracy operation and Op RIVER SWEEP which is an anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT) and anti-Illegal refining operation.
While recalling the successes of the 2 operations in the past 3 years, the CNS added that the anti-piracy operations contributed to significant improvement in shipping into Nigeria’s maritime environment as attested to by the Nigerian Shippers Council, while the anti-COT and illegal refining operations prevented any stolen crude from being taken away in ships or barges to mother vessels at sea. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) attested to the successes of Op RIVER SWEEP, confirming huge savings for the nation due to massive reductions in pipeline product losses between 2015 and 2018, he said.
Admiral Ibas disclosed that the NN continues to conduct policing patrols across the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone and territorial waters employing the advantage of its maritime situational awareness infrastructure to coordinate and direct the pattern of patrols. He stated that the Service has been able to conduct round the clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) facilities in addition to surface vessels and helicopters to ensure effective electronic tracking of vessels within the maritime environment.
To further enhance maritime operations, the CNS stated that the NN maintains regular engagements with various stakeholders particularly, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Customs, Immigration, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and other maritime nations and international maritime agencies who had been most supportive in the accomplishment of maritime security for the emplacement of a more conducive environment for shipping and other maritime activities to strive.
Admiral Ibas therefore appreciated the support of the Nigerian Government in enhancing the response capability of the NN through the acquisition of more patrol vessels and aircraft, adding that the on-going fleet expansion programme which had led to addition of several OPVs, Seaward Defence Boats, induction of over 250 Inshore Patrol Boats including the strengthening of the NN air bases had enabled the NN to extend reach in support of regional effort to secure the common seas while enabling the Service better attend to her domestic policing roles.
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