23 December 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – IN a bid to checkmate the menace of piracy, a United Kingdom based firm, Secure Anchorage Area, SAA, in collaboration with a Nigerian shipping firm Ocean Marine security have created a partnership that will provide a secured anchorage for vessels in the nation’s waters.
Speaking at the launch of a secure anchorage area offshore Lagos, SAA’s Operations Director, Sven Hanson said that the anchorage area which is located c.10 nautical miles, NM, south west from the entrance to Lagos Port Channel.
Hanson said that the was conceptualized to provide 24/7 protection for vessels, otherwise vulnerable to attack, waiting to berth or conducting ship to ship, STS operations offshore Lagos.
Under this arrangement, which enjoys strong supports from the U.K and Nigerian governments is expected to offer a protection solution to both domestic and international shipping companies that need protection from piracy.
He stated SAA has been providing protection for offshore access and client vessels in the Niger-Delta before now but only extended its services to offshore Lagos.
He explained that the arrangement is such that there are dedicated Nigerian Navy patrol Boats with mounted weapons, capable of enforcing a 200 Nautical Miles maritime Exclusion Zone.
Also speaking in similar vein Managing Director of SAA, Mr. Nick Dixon assured that effective security solution, will bring succor to ship owners and increase trading activities in country.
“The most interesting here is that the Nigeria Navy Patrol Boats ensure all potential threats are neutralised a significant distance away from where the clients of SAA are securely anchored.”
Although SAA’s is a private sector that is offering a viable maritime security solution to vessels owners, it requires the assistance of the Nigerian Navy and other stakeholders from the oil and gas and shipping industries to ensure that pirates are prevented from getting into vessels, in addition to solving the problem of piracy, which has been existing in the Gulf of Guinea for over 30 years.
“SAA is a private sector that is offering a security service with the Nigeria Navy and others. A lot of commercial vessels at present are entering Nigerian waters to get their place of berth, but they are told that their place of berth is not available and they have to take the risk of returning to a 150 nautical miles offshore and drift for maybe two weeks until the place becomes available.
So what we have done is to secure a 24/7 safe anchorage area nearer vessels place of berth to ensure safety and minimal risk to the environment in the event of spillage from transfer of hazardous cargo from one platform to another.
There is also the need to protect underwater cabling and gas pipeline, etc, which are all vital to ensuring the social and economic stability of Nigeria and her people”, Nick Dixon said.
Similarly, Chairman, Ocean Marine Security, Dr. Idahosa Okunbo, appeared to be delighted with the whole arrangement.
His words, “This is one of our visions for the maritime safety of the Gulf of Guinea of which ocean marine security has been a part of for the past 7 to 8 years. We have ensured security of platforms in the Niger Delta area, and worked with major stakeholders to secure oil access, but today, we are partnering with an international company to realize our vision of making the Lagos area, which has started to meet various piracy activities, experience a new dawn in the maritime safety environment.”
Although, Dr. Okunbo is guaranteeing safety of vessels within designated anchorage area in the Lagos maritime, he quickly warns vessels operators against drifting to other areas.
Okunbo went on to say, “There could still be some piracy activities outside the designated area where we have carved out for the ships to come and anchor and do ship to ship operations, so, if you wonder off that area we are not guaranteeing you piracy safety.
SAA has declared there is a zone designated as a secured area for anchorage. Now, that zone definitely, is going to be secured, because, there is a lot of deployment with our arrangement and partnership with the Navy, and also the technological know-how that our partners have brought into play and the manpower, vessels are assured of total security.
In addition to Dr. Okunbo’s statement, Vice Chairman, Ocean Marine Security, Olatunde Ayeni said, “what is meant here is that we are not guaranteeing there would not be an attempt or there would not be piracy trying to break loose, but for the areas of cover where we protect we can guarantee 100% of security success. Pirates can attempt, but will not succeed.