President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday commissioned the $195m Deep Blue Project to combat piracy and other maritime crimes on the nation’s coastal waters as well as in the Gulf of Guinea region.
LEADERSHIP reports that the Deep Blue project, since its conceptualisation, was meant to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea area.
The project has three categories of platform to 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 armoured 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.
However, the President said that the Deep Blue project was the benchmark for maritime security among nations in the West and Central African regions.
He added that the project would facilitate a condusive environment for the maritime sector to thrive and contribute to the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
According to him, the Deep Blue project was a critical step for the realisation of the maritime security in the region and it underscores Nigeria’s commitment to providing the necessary framework, resources and cooperation with other nations and maritime users.
“The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure Project, populary known as the Deep Blue project is being initiated to foster security architecture and ensure greater enforcement action within the Nigerian waters and beyond,” he said.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Ameachi, expressed delight that the assets of the project have already been deployed to guarantee safety at Lagos Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) after the private security outfits engaged for such operations were disengaged.
The Transport Minister commended the Ministry of Defence and the Service Chiefs for their contributions throughout the preliminary stages of the project and encouraged them to maintain the support.
On his part, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), stated that with the Deep Blue project, safety is guaranteed in the maritime sector and this would attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).