GoG Piracy And Deep Blue Project

GoG Piracy And Deep Blue Project
Nigerian special forces sail to intercept pirates during a joint exercise between Nigerian and Moroccan naval personels as part of Obangame

While a pirate attack was being repelled in Nigeria by the Russian Navy on Tuesday night, another incident was recorded in the Gulf of Guinea as three crew members were kidnapped in Equatorial Guinea.

The incident which occured at about 10:26pm in Equatorial Guinea, was reported as illegal boarding and kidnap of crew of an Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV).

It is believed that the kidnap was for ransom with the location reported to be 50 nautical miles South West of Bioko Island in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Equatorial Guinea.

The distance from shore is approximately 115 nautical miles from Niger Delta coast, where a pirate attack was repelled a few hours earlier.

The OSV was reportedly boarded whilst sailing SW in the southern area of Equatorial Guinea EEZ and the reports as at 2pm stated that the vessel was drifting with AIS still on.

It took the intervention of the Russian Navy last night to rescue a containership belonging to Mediterranean Shipping Company which was attacked off Bayelsa, in Nigeria.

Reports stated that the 1985-built 1,893 teu MSC Lucia was boarded by an unknown number of armed men earlier yesterday, but a Russian Navy tanker, Akademik Pashin approached the hijacked vessel and rescued it.

Akademik Pashin is included in the Russian naval group located off the coast of West Africa.

While the timely rescue of the distressed ship is seen as a good development, the attack is an anomaly at a time the GoG has recorded a drop in piracy with zero pirate attack in the last quarter.

The Nigerian waters and perhaps the entire GoG is screaming for the deployment and intervention of the Deep Blue Project as maritime security experts have forecasted that pirates will come out for illicit operations ahead of the Christmas season.

Our correspondent also discovered that one of the vessels under the Deep Blue Project ‘DB Lagos’ is tied up alongside the Nigerian Navy Sailing Club in Navy Town in Lagos. The crew is sitting on the railings on the deck of the boat, doing nothing, whilst the nation’s waters and the GoG is recording pirate attacks.

As Nigeria hopes to secure a seat of the Governing Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), it has become pertinent that the recent gains with regards safety on the waters do not become history.

Few weeks ago, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) revealed that it has partnered the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in a bid to speedily evacuate some of the Deep Blue Project assets stuck at the ports. What’s the latest update, concerned industry stakeholders have asked?

Has some of the maritime security architecture been deployed to the more troubled waters in the Eastern part of the country? Is it too early to measure the success of the Deep Blue Project? What’s the template to ensure sustainability?

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