The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has taken delivery of the first of two Cessna Citation CJ3 maritime surveillance aircraft as part of its Deep Blue maritime security project.
The Citation arrived in Lagos on 12 May in what NIMASA said was the final phase of the delivery and installation of assets under the Deep Blue Project designed to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
Bashir Jamoh, Director General/CEO of NIMASA, received the aircraft together with Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and NIMASA’s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chudi Offodile.
Addressing journalists during a brief ceremony to mark the arrival of the aircraft, Jamoh said the assets would further improve security in Nigerian waters. “There has been a drastic decrease in the rate of security breaches in our waters in recent times. This is a clear indication that we are getting it right with the Deep Blue Project,” he said, with the goal to eliminate entirely such incidents.
“The figures we are getting from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) are encouraging. We ultimately aim to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and business generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.” The organisation has in recent months reported a consistent year-on-year drop in the number of attacks on ships in Nigerian waters.
“These figures are a proof that we can make our waters safe and secure, and we are determined to do so,” Jamoh stated.
According to Jamoh, the Citations are the ‘crown jewels’ in the NIMASA inventory. In December 2018 Israel’s BIRD Aerosystems said it had been contracted to supply Cessna Citations configured for the maritime surveillance role to a new, undisclosed African customer, which is believed to be Nigeria. The aircraft are fitted with BIRD’s Airborne Surveillance, Intelligence and Observation (ASIO) maritime solution as well as its Mission Management system (MSIS).
The first Citation to be delivered wore temporary registration 4X-CML (cn 525B-0203) and was revealed with Nigerian Air Force registration NAF957 (the Nigerian Air Force will operate the aircraft on NIMASA’s behalf from the 107th Air Maritime Group at Benin). The aircraft was previously registered as N328RC with the Bank of Utah. The second aircraft (525B-0349, 4X-CMJ) is ex D-CJET from Air Hamburg Private Jets.
Before the Citation delivery, Jamoh had earlier inspected three AW109 helicopters at the Apapa Naval Base ahead of the official launch of Deep Blue on 21 May.
Other assets delivered for Deep Blue include four Tekever unmanned aerial vehicles, two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.