Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has taken delivery of the first special mission vessel under the Deep Blue Project to boost the integrated surveillance and security architecture needed to tackle insecurity in Nigeria’s territorial waters.

The special mission vessel will also enable NIMASA deal with menace of increasing violent piracy attacks and kidnappings in Gulf of Guinea. Chairman of the project monitoring team for the Deep Blue Project, also known as Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, Mrs. Olu Mustapha, disclosed the Command, Control, Computer Communication and Intelligence (C4i) centre located at the NIMASA-owned Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre (NMRDC), Kirikiri, will act as the nerve centre for operations and workflow management for all platforms under the Deep Blue Project.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony organised by NIMASA for a new set of C4i system operators in Lagos Nigeria, she said the graduation of the C4i operators marks another milestone towards the total commencement of the project.

Mustapha, who is also the director, project services, at the Ministry of Defence, said the essence of the training for the intelligence officers was to ensure adequate capacity to man the assets under the Deep Blue Project, especially with commencement of the receipt of the special assets.

“The assets of the Deep Blue Project must be manned by competent personnel and that is what we are committed to through various training programmes for different components of the project. This graduation of C4i system operators will produce additional personnel for the optimisation of the system,” she said

Also speaking, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, lamented the negative effects of insecurity in the Nigeria maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea. Dakuku said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was committed to diversifying the economy and saw maritime as an economic game changer in this direction. He said security of the maritime environment was a top priority of the administration.

“The Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea are known globally as major maritime security flashpoints. In addressing the challenges, a bi-ministerial collaboration of the federal ministries of defence and Transportation, as well the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) developed a maritime security architecture comprising all military and security services as well as NIMASA to ensure a conducive environment for maritime to thrive,” Dakuku stated

He informed that the federal government, through NIMASA, had invested ample resources in infrastructure, including the critical manpower component required to run the Deep Blue Project effectively and efficiently. He asked the graduates to bring the skills and experience they acquired during their training to bear on the national security assignment.

The C4i centre was commissioned in August. It is equipped with alert setting capabilities, Coastal Automatic Identification System (AIS), and SAT AIS signals all over the world, in liaison with some international security networks, for access to database for vessel movement, with capacity for six-year retrospective monitoring of vessels movement.

By chibisi Ohakah

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