Skip to comments.Hired guns secure ships, stir controversy
Posted on 02/14/2010 4:15:21 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
NAPLES, Italy As the world struggles to stop piracy in the waters off the coast of Africa and the Middle East, several companies have stepped forward to provide armed escort boats for commercial ships.
Small, fast boats with a handful of armed mariners are an "emerging way to handle the [piracy] problem in a safe way," said Jim Jorrie, CEO of Espada Logistics and Security-MENA, a San Antonio-based company offering such services.
But shipping industry experts frown on the practice.
"It slightly smacks of vigilantism to me," said Tony Mason, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping and International Shipping Federation.
"It poses a lot of questions, like under what rules of engagement will they operate?" Mason asked. "We would not speak against [companies] that choose to embark security teams, but as an industry, we are opposed to private forces on ships. They are unregulated and present potential legal problems. We oppose private escort boats for the same reasons."
Legal issues could arise, he said, if anyone were killed during one of the escort boats operations.
"There are laws against a private individual killing a private individual, even if they are perceived to be pirates," Mason said. "You cant go on the high seas, just like you cant go on the streets of London, and shoot people likely to do harm to you."
Another company offering the services, Muse Professional Group Inc., headquartered in Ukraine, contracts out the services of the Yemeni coast guard to both provide merchant vessels escort as they transit the Gulf of Aden, and quell dissent among the industry leaders, said one of Muses owners, Charles Kuneff.
The Yemeni coast guard members are trained by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard and must abide by military rules of engagement, said Lt. Col. Bakill Hamzah, operations officer for the Aden District of the Yemeni coast guard, and manager of the countrys National Anti-Piracy Center.
"This is not a normal thing for us," he said of hiring out guardsmen to commercial companies, Hamzah said. "But its one of the solutions we see appropriate ... to counter the piracy problem in the area. It looks like a good solution."
Yemen trained 150 coast guard sailors last year to provide embarked and escort security teams to merchant ships, and plans to train another 150 this year, he said.
Muses practice of relying on a military force rather than private security does allay some of the industrys concerns, Mason said.
Muse charges private companies $25,000 for escort through the Gulf of Aden.
The Texas-based Espada recently bought more small boats to expand its services, and charges $54,000 for a three-day escort through the Gulf of Aden, and $74,000 for wider-ranging, four-day protection that covers East Africa and the Horn of Africa down to the Seychelles or Mombasa, Kenya.
Citing security reasons, officials with the security firms declined to provide Stars and Stripes the names of shipping companies that had hired them. The security firms said they contacted the shipping companies, who declined to be interviewed for this story.
Mason admits that industry experts have yet to find a "good solution" to the swell of pirate attacks despite an increased presence of military naval vessels in the region. The attacks have prompted commercial freighters to look for ways to protect their cargo.
The number of sea attacks worldwide increased 39 percent last year to 406 cases, the highest in six years, according to the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureaus Piracy Reporting Centre. The numbers have steadily increased over the past several years, from 239 incidents in 2006 to 263 incidents in 2007 and 293 incidents in 2008, the organization reported.
Nearly 20 percent of global shipping, including 8 percent of global oil shipments, transit the narrow Gulf of Aden that leads through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal. The Gulf of Aden is flanked by volatile Somalia on one side and unstable Yemen on the other. For several years, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have trained the Yemeni coast guard sailors to protect their shoreline training the Yemeni government is parlaying into additional revenue by allowing the coast guard to hire out its cargo ship protection services.
Every year, more than 23,000 ships carrying billions of dollars in cargo pass through the gulf, dubbed "pirate alley."
Until recently, commercial ships had relied primarily on a handful of international navies for safe passage; a military coalition facing the daunting task of monitoring more than 1.1 million square miles of water.
"The military has had significant successes in the Gulf," Mason said. "The problem is, pirates migrated to the Somali basin, a far bigger area and much more difficult to patrol."
In November 2008, for example, pirates in a skiff brazenly attacked a supertanker 450 miles of the coast of Kenya: an unparalleled attack on such a large vessel sailing so far from land.
Military forces havent fully endorsed the practice of security-for-hire firms, but have conceded the need for increased measures.
"While the use of commercial security vessels is a newer trend, the Navy applauds the shipping industrys continued dedication to increase their safety, as long as they adhere to professional standards and the appropriate legal guidelines," said Lt. Matt Allen, a spokesman with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.
Countermeasures, including private security firms, might increase the chances of a merchant ship safely navigating the pirate-infested waters, but another regional expert questioned whether such measures will only create different problems.
"The question becomes who, ultimately, is in charge? " asked Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa expert with the Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House think tank in London. "Is it the master of the ships, who is in charge of the safety of the crew, or the hired security team, whose goal might be different?"
Will the private companies tactics be in line with those of the patrolling militaries? To whom will the mercenaries answer, Middleton wondered.
"Private companies, in general, have not always held the most reliable record in some parts of the world," he said.
But Jorrie said the rules of engagement and "order of battle" are clearly defined and established with each client. And most of the security personnel are former military, some special forces, trained in such skills as navigation and radio communications, security and basic maritime skills, Jorrie said.
And his security teams share any incidents and intelligence with the military leaders in the region, though they are not required to do so.
“It slightly smacks of vigilantism to me,” said Tony Mason, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping and International Shipping Federation.”
And then he went home to have his mommy change his diapers.
Sounds like a good idea to me
Why is this different from hiring an armed guard that might accidentally shoot someone he did not intend to shoot?
Well I don't know where to start with all that is wrong with that statement.
“As the world struggles to stop piracy in the waters off the coast of Africa and the Middle East...”
This is such a BS statement. The West has the means to stop piracy very, very easily but it does lack the will. Sure, we can stop an enemy sub or battleship but we can’t stop a dinghy full of jihadis? Give me a break!
The poor fool is obviously from some country which disarmed its law-abiding citizens generations ago.
Perhaps the govts should have done something if they don’t like this. Instead they will try to stop these companies from providing this service.
Sounds just like hiring ordinary security guards, except it’s on sea rather than on land. The guards won’t draw unless a threat is seen, and it usually inspires the threat to have somewhere else to go.
“You cant go on the high seas, just like you cant go on the streets of London, and shoot people likely to do harm to you.”
Which is why I THANK GOD that I’m a US citizen and not a UK subject!
its just another form of wealth re-distribution.
Ditto! As long as they just shoot pirates, why not!
Duty like this would be a piece of cake for whatever they call Blackwater now.
If I had the money I’d set up a sleeper ship that looks very innocent but inside of it is loaded with all sorts of goodies that can pop up on short notice and devastate any piss-ant pirates doing jihad on the open seas. When they attack sink them, leave no survivors, and track down the mother ship with a UAV and sink that one, too!
It’s very simple. You take the war to the jihadis instead of letting them take it to you.
What about legal issues arising from innocent travelers being killed due to a LACK of security????
There is no obligation to maintain victim status, simply because SELF-DEFENSE makes some group of pansies uncomfortable!
If you are a bandit seeking to assault me then YOU should be perpared to die and no amount of “disapproval” or debate about tactics will deter me.
Seems this whole piracy issue could be solved by installing an M-2 on board, 100,000 rounds, and having a couple sailors trained in its use.
They’re called Q ships.
No wonder there are so many pirates taking so many ships, what with these pu$$ies running things. Oh my, we might have liability concerns, now where did I put my handbag?
What, the pirates are going to sue you? What a fool.
If I owned a cruise line, I would set up an anti-piracy cruise. I think it would be a money maker.
Bring your own arms and bullets.
General orders alarm sounds, and the cruise goers get to repel the pirates.
Yet these are the same individuals who will hire armed bodyguards to chauffer them around London.
how on earth did so many Englishmen ever become such pussies?
Someone tell me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure there is an International maritime Law definition of Piracy and Pirates that could be brought to apply. I am willing to bet this was used when the US nailed those SOBs last April?
Or, should companies needing to navigate the waters off Somalia and other similar paradises just put all the crew in lifeboats and leave a big sign that says “all yours” and leave the keys on the bridge?
|The Gulf of Aden is flanked by volatile Somalia on one side and unstable Yemen on the other. For several years, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have trained the Yemeni coast guard sailors to protect their shoreline training the Yemeni government is parlaying into additional revenue by allowing the coast guard to hire out its cargo ship protection services.
It's agreed, then. You guys will attack the ships, and we'll rent ourselves out as security guards. When we come after you firing blanks, you retreat to shore. Afterwards we split the money we get from guarding the ships.
Maybe enough pirates will be killed to eventually make the transit safe without needing these shepherd to stand guard over the fat sheep.
I answered my own question:
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 10 December 1982, Part VII: High Seas, Article 101: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part7.htm
Definition of piracy
Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
© any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).
My take — fire away under a UN blue flag even.
Good lord man 100,000 rounds. Seems like a couple burst of 50 cal would be enough to make a dingy tooth picks. But if it must be done I will shoot off the 100,000 rounds. Just don’t give me the A-gunner I had in the corps.
From a few months ago....
THE ENTREPENEURIAL SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE CRUISE LINE
I was checking cruise lines because I heard the rates are very cheap
I fou nd a Somali cruise package that departs from Sawakin (in the Sudan
) and docks at Bagamoya (in Tanzania ).
The cost is a bit high @ 800 per person double occupancy but I didn’t
find that offensive. What I found encouraging and enlightened is that
the cruise is encouraging people to bring their ‘High powered weapons’
along on the cruise. If you don’t have weapons you can rent them right
there on the boat. They claim to have a master blacksmith on board and
will have reloading parties every afternoon. The cruise lasts from 4-8
days and nights and costs a maximum of $3200 per person double occupancy
(4 days). All the boat does is sail up and down the coast of Somalia
waiting to get hijacked by pirates. Here are some of the costs and
claims associated with the package.
$800.00 US/per day double occupancy (4 day max billing)
M-16 full auto rental $ 25.00/day ammo at 100 rounds of 5.56 armor
piercing ammo at 15.95
Ak-47 riffle @ No charge. ammo at 100 rounds of 7.62 com block ball ammo
Barrett M-107 .50 cal sniper riffle rental 55.00/day ammo at 25 rounds
50 cal armor piercing at 9.95
Crew members can double as spotters for 30.00 per hour ( spotting scope
They even offer RPG’s at 75 bucks and 200 dollars for 3 standard loads
“Everyone gets use of free complimentary night vision equipment and
coffee and snacks on the top deck from 7pm-6am.”
Meals are not included but seem reasonable.
Most cruises offer a mini-bar... these gung ho entrepreneurs
offer......... get this.....
“MOUNTED MINIGUN AVAILABLE @ 450.00 per 30 seconds of sustained fire”
Sign my ars up!
They advertise group rates and corporate discounts...... and even claim
“FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY”
They even offer a partial money back if not satisfied....here’s some
text from the ad.
“We guarantee that you will experience at least two hijacking attempts
by pirates or we will refund half your money back including gun rental
charges and any unused ammo ( mini gun charges not included).. How can
we guarantee you will experience a hijacking? We operate at 5 knots
within 12 miles of the coast of Somalia . If an attempted Hijacking does
not occur we will turn the boat around and cruise by at 4 knots. We will
repeat this for up to 8 days making three passes a day along the entire
length of Somalia . At night the boat is fully lit and bottle rockets
are shot off at intervals and loud disco music beamed shore side to
attract attention. Cabin space is limited so respond quickly. Reserve
your package before Feb 29 and get 100 rounds of free tracer ammo in the
caliber of your choice.”
As if all that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, there were a few
“I got three confirmed kills on my last trip. I’LL never hunt big game
in Africa again. I felt like the Komandant in Schindlers list!”—— Lars
, Hamburg Germany
“Six attacks in 4 days was more than I expected. I bagged three pirates
and my 12yr old son sank two rowboats with the minigun. PIRATES 0
-PASSENGERS-32! Well worth the trip. Just make sure your spotter speaks
Ned, Salt Lake city , Utah USA
“I haven’t had this much fun since flying choppers in NAM . Don’t worry
about getting shot by pirates as they never even got close to the ship
with those weapons they use and their shitty aim—reminds me of a
drunken ‘juicer’ door gunner we picked up from the motor pool back in
Dan ——Toledo USA.
“Like ducks in a barrel. They turned the ship around and we saw them
bleed and cry in the water like little girls. Saw one wounded pirate
eaten by sharks—what a laugh riot!! This is a must do.-— Zeke-Minnahaw
Springs Kentucky USA
Finally, someone had the common sense to cash in AND solve a major
problem. These folks deserve a medal!
Good article about these Q ships.
The brave ones either emigrated to America, or died in World Wars I & II, leaving behing the cowardly, weak, infirm and imbeciles to continue inbreeding. England is a modern-day laboratory of "un-natural" selection.
“just like you cant go on the streets of London, and shoot people likely to do harm to you.”
This is exactly why it flourishes...
I would just love to see how many of our pussy lawyers would run right over to Somalia to represent these folks. This would solve a few problems here. They get to keep whatever lawyers they can secure.
Good lord man 100,000 rounds. Seems like a couple burst of 50 cal would be enough to make a dingy tooth picks.
Just in case they sent others also!
Apophis is our only real hope.
How is your hearing these days?
It is. ;-)
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