Chiemelie Ezeobi in Accra, Ghana
The Nigerian Navy (NN), Thursday said its round-the- clock surveillance of the country’s maritime space using the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye (FE) facilities, in addition to surface vessels and helicopters, have led to the arrest of over 130 vessels.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas said this at the inaugural International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (IMDEC) held in Accra, Ghana to mark the Ghanaian Navy’s 60th anniversary.
Delivering a paper titled “Highlights of the NN operations and projections for advancing information sharing towards overcoming criminality at sea,” he said the arrests were recorded over a period of two years.
Quoting statistics from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Ibas said increased information sharing between the NN and other agencies contributed to a 50 per cent reduction of acts of piracy within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.
He advocated for more sustained presence at sea and increasing exchange of critical information between regional partners, stakeholders for the security of the maritime domain.
Ibas also disclosed that the NN has initiated various operations and programmes geared towards creating a safe and secured space for maritime commerce to thrive.
Using Operations TSARE TEKU and RIVER SWEEP as examples of NN independent engagements to check piracy and oil theft respectively, the CNS said there has been successive decline in reported cases of pirate/sea robbery attacks within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
He said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has attested to the successes of Op RIVER SWEEP, confirming huge savings for the nation due to massive reductions in pipeline losses between 2015 and 2018.
“Apart from these two specifically designed operations, the NN continue to conduct policing patrols across the nation’s EEZ and territorial waters employing the advantage of its MDA infrastructure to coordinate and direct the pattern of patrols.
“The service is thus able to conduct round the clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and the Falcon Eye (FE) facilities in addition to surface vessels and helicopters.
“These facilities ensure effective electronic tracking of vessels within our maritime environment whether fitted with Automatic Identification System (AIS) or not. The systems also serve as force multipliers, as NN patrols are more mission oriented with attendant reduction in operational logistic cost.
“For instance, the FE Systems were used to vector NNS UNITY to arrest MV NESO II in October 2018 while NNS NGURU and EKULU were vectored to arrest MV HAWA and AKEMIJOE DEBORAH respectively as well as several others, in 2019. All these vessels were arrested on suspicion of committing infractions within Nigerian waters.”
Earlier, Ghana’s Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said the country had commenced steps to increase its naval fleet from the 10 platforms it currently has.
Bawumia who was represented by Ghana’s Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul said a loan of about $200million has been signed for the establishment of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) within its western region.
Chief of Ghana Navy, Rear Admiral Seth Amoama, in his welcome address, commended the NN for deploying two warships to celebrate the country’s 60th anniversary and for other numerous assistance the NN has rendered her Ghanaian counterpart.
He said the conference had in attendance over 300 delegates and exhibitors including more than 40 admirals, Chief of Navies and Coast Guards from 25 countries, proof that efforts were being made by African navies to develop solutions to myriads challenges in the maritime domain.
Amoama disclosed that the government of Ghana has approved the hosting of French Navy- introduced Exercise GRAND NEMO in November and next year’s Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS slated for March.
At the event were Commander United States Naval Forces Africa Admiral James Foggo; Portuguese Deputy CNS Vice Admiral Jorge Palma; Ghana’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Lt.-Gen. Boamah Akwa; Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Maj.-Gen. WA Ayamdo; former Ghana CNS Rear Admiral Peter Faidoo: CNS of Senegal, Rear Admiral Momar Diagne
and Congo Brazzaville, Captain Rene Nganongo, as well as Commander of the Coast Guard, Cape Verde, Captain Pedro Santana.