The patrol boats, NIMASA Amaseikumor, NIMASA Oglakirigha and NIMASA Oweikenigban were inducted in October 2013 and are deployed for action by the Maritime Guard Command.
Commanded by a Captain of the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA’s Maritime Guard Command is a quasi-Coast Guard which is jointly staffed by personnel on secondment from the Nigerian Navy and by NIMASA officers.
SHIPPING POSITION ONLINE
24 July, 2014
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has assured that with the launching of its Satellite Surveillance Centre, it is now able to respond to any distress call on Nigerian waters and beyond.
The agency has however lamented that presently it does not have enough security officers assigned to its Maritime Guard Command to be able to efficiently complement the findings of the surveillance system. Director General of NIMASA, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi stated this in Lagos yesterday at a press conference organised by the agency.
Akpobolokemi, who was represented by the agency’s Executive Director of Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Capt Ezekiel Bala Agaba, said that the new 24 hours satellite surveillance equipment has the capability to detect boats, ships and objects of predefined cross-section floating on water.
According to Akpobolokemi, the centre which was launched in June 2014 was instrumental to the rescue of a Ghanaian-flagged vessel that was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Ghana.
Also speaking at the press conference, NIMASA’s Director of Shipping Development, Capt. Waredi Eniosuoh said that about six vessels have also been arrested for operating illegally on Nigerian waters through the use of the surveillance system.Waredi added that the satellite surveillance is capable of detecting vessels that entered Nigerian waters even with falsified IMO number, and other ships of interest.
He however lamented that presently, NIMASA has run out of security personnel in its Maritime Guard Command to follow up on the day-to- day implementation of the printout of the new system.
“I can tell you that as we speak, the satellite prints out on a daily basis for us,every vessel that does not meet the requirement. I don’t want to name the vessels that are out there now that have been arrested, but I can tell you we have five and another one has just joined the list”, he disclosed.
Raising an alarm about the shortage, he said: “I am so scared now with the result,the reason I am scared with the result is because we have a limited amount of military personnel with us and the rate we are going since this satellite system started, very soon we will run out of the number of military personnel assigned to us, we are about to apply for more”.
The agency has also said that the upgrading of its Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) in Lagos, Bonny and Oron and the radar installation in Escravos, Bonny and Takwa Bay in Lagos will complement the satellite facility and further boost our domain awareness response capability when fully operational.
The facility can equally be used to see beyond the territorial waters of Nigeria, identify ship positions in real time which can greatly enhance search and rescue, plot search and rescue patterns, detect vessels that switch off their automatic identification system (AIS) as well as interrogate the satellite image for information.
“We have successfully reversed the trend as we now have complete control of our maritime domain with considerable capability to respond to marine emergencies within a reasonable timeframe”, he added.
In addition to this, NIMASA says it has embarked on another Verification Inspection Exercise (VIE) of port facilities to enforce compliance with the International Ships and Ports Facility (ISPS) Code. According to the agency, 22 port facilities in Nigeria are now compliant with the ISPS Code as confirmed by the US Coast Guard.
The agency however expressed hope that this figure will rise when the report of the ISPS Code Compliance team which visited the country last April is released.