The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has received all three of its new AW109 helicopters from Italy and is about to put them into service as part of the Deep Blue maritime security initiative, which will be launched at the end of May.
Director-General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, said that the agency had earlier received three helicopters which have been assembled and are being tested prior to service entry. Two AW109s were seen being unloaded in Nigeria in late March.
“These NIMASA special mission helicopters will alongside the special mission aircraft and UAV drone system collectively constitute the air component of our Integrated Maritime Security architecture. We’re committed to policing our waters for our economic prosperity,” Jamoh said in March.
The Deep Blue project is set to be officially launched on 21 May. It aims to combat issues such as illegal fishing, terrorism, oil theft, illegal immigration, smuggling and piracy in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and the Gulf of Guinea. Israeli company Blue Octagon is sourcing much of the hardware for Deep Blue, which also includes a command, control, computer communication, and information (C4I) centre, which began 24 hour operations in August 2019 at the Nimasa base in Kirikiri, Lagos.
At the end of February Nigeria’s Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said Nigeria would commission $195 million worth of aircraft, boats and vehicles in the next three months to strengthen security in the pirate-infested Gulf of Guinea under the Deep Blue Project. This includes two special mission vessels, two aircraft, four UAVs, 16 armoured vehicles and 17 fast interceptor boats.
NIMASA has recruited 250 new cadets to man its various platforms in the Lagos-Bayelsa coastal corridor.