In furtherance of its determination of checkmate the activities of crude oil thievery, piracy and siphoning of maritime assets, the Nigerian Navy has increased its deployment of Choke Points otherwise referred to as Naval Security Stations (NSS) at strategic points in the Niger Delta creeks.
Consequently, the deployment of the houseboats NSS with armed personnel, supported by patrol boats, has risen to ten (10) and contributed immensely to curtailing incidents of crude oil theft and illegal refining activities hitherto prevalent in the maritime domain.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas who made the disclosure while presenting the Nigerian Navy Score Card for 2019 said, “the Choke Point management and control regime has been instrumental to some of the successes recorded by the Nigerian Navy in 2019”.
Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral BEE Ibe-Now, the CNS said, “A total of 70 large wooden boats were arrested for involvement in illegalities in 2019 while 463 large wooden boats were destroyed within same period. In contrast, 31 large wooden boats were arrested in 2018 while 176 large wooden boats were destroyed within the same period.
“The increase in the number of vessels arrested in 2019 when compared to the records for 2018 is attributable to amongst other things, the improved efficiency of NSS. This is reflective in the improved production capacity as alluded to by the NNPC, and IOCs, due to reduced down time associated with breaching of pipelines”.
The CNS who was reeling out efforts that has led to improved maritime security in the nation’s exclusive economic zone said, “The activation of Operation River Sweep in early January 2017 was premise on the noticeable increasing activities of illegal refineries particularly in Delta and Rivers states.
“The operation involves air surveillance, insertion of Special Forces by gunboats, pulling down of located illegal refining sites (IRS) with use of Swamp Buggies as well as arrest/destruction of boats and barges found in such locations.
Consequently, he said, “In 2019, a total of 378 IRS were destroyed by the operation resulting in the arrest of 62 speed boats and 275 suspects for involvement in either crude oil theft or illegal bunkering or smuggling. In contrast, 637 illegal refining sites were destroyed in 2018, with 104 speedboats and 340 suspects arrested.
“The observed reduction in the number of sites and arrests is attributable to the introduction of swamp buggy operations to completely destroy identified illegal refineries, thus making reactivation more difficult.
On how the Navy curtailed the menace of piracy in Nigerian waters, the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Tariworiwo Dick who gave an operational brief said, “Operation Tsare Teku and Calm Waters are dedicated naval operations activated in 2016 and 2019 respectively with the mandate to combat attacks on shipping and other illegal activities in its designated areas.
“Operation Calm Waters focuses on backwater operation while Tsare Teku is concerned with operations beyond coastline. These operations are partly responsible for the reported incidences of sea robbery and piracy within Nigerian waters.
“According to records, from January to December 2019, a total of 16 pirate attacks were recorded with 6 successful and 10 unsuccessful. This is an improvement in comparison to the records of 2018 where a total of 34 pirate attacks were reported with 9 successful and 25 unsuccessful.
“To rid Nigerian Waters of the threats posed by pirates as well as the attendant economic implications, the Nigerian Navy will continue to sustain and possibly improve on current efforts including operation Calm Waters”.
In the area of response capability, Rear Admiral Dick said, ‘The response capability of the Navy is also being enhanced through the acquisition of more platforms and maintenance of existing platforms to guarantee their availability.
“This is reflective in the total number of hours spent on patrols by Nigerian Navy ships in comparison to previous years. For instance Nigerian Navy ships spent a total of 22, 262 hours on patrol from January to 16 December 2019 in comparison to 20, 014 hours spent on patrols in the entire 2018.
“Notwithstanding, the Navy still intends to increase operational capability by acquiring more vessels in order to enable it respond more effectively to contemporary and future threats.”
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