THE Nigerian Navy (NN) has warned ship owners who paint their vessels sea blue, a colour reserved for naval forces, to desist or face arrest.
It said those who use the navy colour without authorisation will have their vessels seized and be forced to change the paint colour before they can take them.
Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Oladele Daji gave the warning while receiving executive members of the Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN).
He urged the association to take the navy’s warning to its members, noting that it was unethical for private security vessels to be painted in navy colour.
According to Daji, some of the vessels do not observe laid down rules at sea and are usually seen conducting themselves in manners that do not represent NN ships’ behaviour.
“Some private companies that are providing security to those that need them in the maritime sector, paint their vessels in NN colour.
“We believe that it is unethical for some of these private crafts to be painted in navy colour without authorisation, especially when they are seen conducting themselves in manners that do not represent the NN.
“We have seen some of them not obeying rules of the route, not complying with international best practices on safety at sea. We have received a lot of calls and it takes time and effort to explain that these are not NN ships.
“Those who have MoU with NN are known and their vessels are manned by NN personnel. Help us to disseminate this information because we will come tough and make arrest of such vessels and force them to change their colour before we release them,” he said.
Daji said he was convinced that MASPAN was a credible association that would provide good platform for cooperation and collaboration to ensure charlatans and criminals do not creep into the maritime security space.
Read Also: Navy tests ships performance
He urged the association to ensure self regulation and promote core values for which it was established, reiterating the NN’s stance against criminality.
“Of late, we have had challenges whereby some individuals just decide to use the sea for criminalities, especially sea robbery, piracy and kidnapping.
“They go about with high capacity boats to perpetrate these crimes. We are engaging with various agencies of government that are to regulate these to ensure they do so. We want to ensure that usage of boat engines between 200 and above is regulated and registered.
“Their operations are giving us bad image and causing high insurance premiums or outright boycott of our region by some shipping companies,” said Daji.
He also advised the group to always explore channels of communication to resolve any issue, adding that they should not hesitate to notify the NN whenever they have useful information.
He warned them to be wary of impostors, noting that the navy had arrested five persons around an oil rig who claimed to be Merchant Navy.
MASPAN’s President Ubong King said they were at the naval command on a courtesy visit, which he said should have held earlier in the year but for the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said part of their mandate was to ensure standards are upheld as well as collaborate with the NN for improved maritime security. He assured the FOC that the association would take up the campaign to warn private ships from using navy colours.
“We will remind our members because this is not a new policy. We will give them load down of this meeting and then remind them so that if any of them was using navy colour without approval, they have to stop it,” he said.