By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa— Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, has advanced reasons for the installation of surveillance cameras along the nation’s territorial waters, saying the facility would aid security agencies to monitor vessels involved in crude oil theft and other vices.
Admiral Ezeoba, who commissioned the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centre, RMAC, in Yenagoa and Brass last Friday, said the hi-tech equipment would provide the Navy with the capacity to leverage on all the tactical pictures of vessels and contacts within and around its area of responsibility.
His words: ‘’What we have done is that we have added impetus to our capacity to deliver on Mr. President’s mandate. The domain awareness centre satisfies the requirement of one of the legs of our trinity of action, which is surveillance capability.”
He noted that with the RMAC centre, it would be easier for the Navy to identify and classify vessels according to the International Maritime Organization, IMO’s standard.
’’We can identify vessels in accordance with IMO classification that says every vessel that is registered and is a flagged vessel must have Automatic Identification System, AIS. That gives you the total character of the vessel and what she is supposed to be doing.
’’Where we find that such vessel does not have such AIS identification, what we do is to begin to question its authenticity,” he added.
According to him, the equipment has been installed at the length and breadth of the nation’s coastline.
He said the challenge before the Navy now was the capacity to respond to the threats posed by ‘strange vessels’ and the ability to sustain the hi-tech equipment that had been installed.
He also identified the capacity of the judiciary to try and prosecute suspects arrested as another layer of challenge in the quest to keep the nation’s territorial waters safe.