* Deploys eight ships, one chopper
By Amgbare Ekaunkumo, Yenagoa
The Nigerian Navy, Central Naval Command (CNC), on Wednesday, has flag off three days sea exercise, code named” Operation Akere” which is an Ijaw word for “arrest” or “catch” to combat crime and criminality .
Daily watch reports that the Exercise will take place in Central Naval Command Area of Responsibility (AOR) from September 23, to 25, 2020.
Speaking at the flag-off, Rear Admiral Garba said the exercise was to strictly enforce the use of Automatic Identification System (AIS) by vessels operating in CNC’s AOR, adding that eight ships and a helicopter are deployed for the exercise.
According to him, against global best practices, vessels operating within the CNC have cultivated the habit of switching off their AIS to escape being identified, monitored and tracked when the needs arise.
He attributed the impunity to a criminal intent by operators of vessels to avoid being detected and subsequently reprimanded.
“The act of switching off AIS could prevent the Nigerian Navy from determining vessels that are genuinely in distress due to piracy/sea robbery attack and deserve rescue.
” The act of deliberately switching off AIS for illegal activities has led to economic losses and sabotage to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity.
“Consequently, with the approval of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, the Fleet would fine-tune its process of enforcing the use of AIS and reduce infractions to the lowest possible level.
“The act of inappropriate switching off AIS for illegal activities has led to economic losses and sabotage to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity,” he further disclosed.
Garba, who said Exercise Akere was approved by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, decried the increase in the violation of the use of AIS in spite of several arrests made and increased presence of the navy in the country’s maritime domain.
He therefore noted that the deployed sea hardwares would embark on intensive patrols of waterways and sea lanes to ensure strict compliance in the use of AIS by vessels, reduce infractions to the bearest minimum as well as checkmate other maritime crimes for economic growth.
“The ships will also afford the fleet the opportunity to practise other evolutions such as ship manoeuvres, emergency drills, communication exercises and gunnery firing among others,” the naval boss added.
Underlining the exercise, Fleet Commander, CNC, Rear Admiral Beckley said the Nigerian Navy, in an attempt to checkmate piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and refining, kidnapping as well as attacks on national oil and gas installations, had ensured regular patrols with the Central Naval Command’s Area of Responsibility, with Operation Swift Response and Operation Calm Waters.