Nigerian territorial waters now enjoy effective monitoring as a result of inter-agency partnership between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and the Nigerian Navy (NN).
This was the submission of the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, while conducting officers of the United States Navy from the Africa
Partnership Station (APS) round facilities at the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), Kirikiri, Lagos.
APS is an international security cooperation initiative facilitated by the U.S Naval forces Europe-Africa and other international partners.
APS's aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and other collaborative activities to improve maritime security in Africa.
Omatseye noted that information sharing between NIMASA and the NN is ongoing to ensure effective monitoring of the nation's maritime domain.
“All signals received on the Automated Identification Tracking (AIS) at the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center are shared with the Nigerian Navy who also send Data generated from its Radar at the Naval Dockyard, Beechcroft, to the MRCC”, Omatseye said.
While noting that the agency now effectively monitors all ships with functional AIS, the NIMASA boss explained that those which do not have AIS or deliberately turn them off, can also be identified from the data generated from the Naval Radar.
“From this room, we can effectively monitor activities of all vessels out there on our waters. When we see two vessels extremely close, it's an indication that something fishy is going on. All we do in such cases was to pass the information to our patrol boats and they are mobilized to investigate the Ships,” Omatseye said.
He explained that the AIS which is manned by Naval Officers attached to the Maritime Guard Command, assists the Agency to generate General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) signals and exact coordinates of the ships.
He also stated that the Long Range Identification Tracking (LRIT)and the Maritime Safety Information (MSI) system would soon be integrated into the package, adding that the documentation process has been concluded and the test run would soon start.
The NIMASA boss, who commended the American Government for the support in establishing the AIS in Nigeria, noted that the collaboration between the American Navy, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy will greatly enhance security and safety on Nigerian waters.
On her part, the Commander of Africa Partnership Station of the United States Navy, Captain Cindy Thehaun commended NIMASA for what the agency's management has achieved in the areas of maritime safety, security and shipping promotion.
She also noted that the American Government is committed to the relationship between the American Navy and the NIMASA.
Facilities inspected by the American Naval team from the APS, at the NIMASA MRCC include the AIS, helipad for search and rescue Operations and the Maritime Data Bank which is the first of its type in the West and Central African Region.