Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi said that Nigeria will soon commission $195 million worth of boats, aircraft, vehicles, and drones in the next three months to strengthen security in the pirated Gulf of Guinea.
This new development, he said, will help reduce shipowner’s reliance on private security companies to protect them in the sea off Nigeria’s coast. That part of the world’s waters is the most perilous for seafarers that often lead to kidnappings by pirates in some years past, according to information gleaned from International Maritime Bureau.
Nigeria assures that it will have enough vessels located in the water, watching it full time. Also, aircraft and drones will watch the water, with full capacity to respond.
Known as the Deep Blue Project, this initiative is coordinated by a government agency under Amaechi’s supervision. The security assets that will be deployed are two special mission vessels, two aircraft, two helicopters, four drones, 16 armored vehicles, and 17 fast interceptor boats.
To procure the equipment, Nigeria partnered with Blue Octagon, a Herzliya, Israel-based maritime security company, but security forces will be in operation inside the water.
The new initiative means increased capabilities supporting Nigeria’s crucial oil industry, or the import and export of goods that now will have less need for the approximately 200 privately-owned escort vessels that usually cost from $8,000 to $10,000 per day, as Amaechi also confirmed.
The new arrangement received a boost when President Muhammadu Buhari terminated an arrangement in place in 2014, which had local private security company, Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd. Providing boats allowing the navy to patrol a certain area on the approach to Lago, Nigeria.