Shipper Hires Mercenary Pirate-Fighters

05.01.10

Categorie: Africa, David Axe, Mercenaries, Naval, Piracy |
Tags: , ,

by DAVID AXE

To protect its vessels transiting the Indian Ocean from increasingly aggressive Somali pirates, in 2008 shipping firm Maersk hired a Tanzanian navy patrol boat and its crew. (Kenyan patrol boat pictured.) That move was only recently reported. “It’s a temporary solution that a shipper has hired a warship from another country, but there’s no alternative,” Jan Fritz Hansen, vice-president of the Danish Shipowners’ Association, told a reporter.

It was neither the first nor last time a shipper hired mercs to fight pirates. Usually the security personnel ride aboard the vessel they’re protecting. Hiring an escort vessel represents a rare private convoy. It’s no accident that many Tanzanian military personnel are trained in China: the Chinese also form convoys to protect Beijing’s shipping interests from pirates, whereas the U.S. and European model relies on independent navy patrols protecting a shipping corridor.

Tanzanian sailors have also benefited from American expertise. A year ago the U.S. Navy frigate Robert G. Bradley visited Tanzania in part to train up local forces in counter-piracy operations.

Merc firm Blackwater, a.k.a. “Xe,” tried to get into the pirate-killing’ bizness in 2007 when it outfitted a small vessel, McArthur, with a helicopter pad, medical bay and weapons facilities. The Blackwater navy never scored a contract, perhaps owing to its worsening reputation for unethical behavior. Springbored at U.S. Naval Institute Blog celebrated when Blackwater put its vessel on sale in Spain, calling McArthur a “platform that just was inappropriate for the job.”

Blogger Galrahn defended the use of mercs in the piracy fight:

There is a slow but deliberate escalation taking place in regards to piracy off the coast of Africa, and the absence of a political solution by global political leaders is prompting the gigantic shipping industry to take matters in their own hands.

But the hiring of a formal navy as mercs has got one expert worried. “Long-term, it’s a dangerous development because it will make poor African countries reliant on private companies’ money to run their militaries,” said Lars Bangert Struwe from the Danish Institute for Military Studies.

(Photo: The Citizen)

Related:
Pirates Surge in Gulf of Aden
A.U. Air Defenders Could Block Eritrean Arms
Maritime, Air Roles for A.U. Peacekeepers in Somalia
Puntland Scraps Makeshift Pirate-Fighting Force
Regaining the Initiative against Somali Pirates
World Politics Review: Counterpiracy Mission Targets Seafarers’ Hearts and Minds

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3 Responses to “Shipper Hires Mercenary Pirate-Fighters”

  1. UNRR says:

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 1/6/2010, at The Unreligious Right

  2. [...] Shipper Hires Mercenary Pirate-Fighters Pirates Surge in Gulf of Aden A.U. Air Defenders Could Block Eritrean Arms Maritime, Air Roles for [...]

  3. [...] seized in 2008 alone — more and more shippers were hiring security guards for their vessels or even chartering Tanzanian or Yemeni military vessels for [...]

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