Ship-Protection Firm “Looking at” Former Blackwater Pirate-Fighter


Categorie: Africa, David Axe, Mercenaries, Naval, Piracy |
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McArthur. Photo via Military Times.


In 2007, mercenary firm Blackwater outfitted a 183-foot yacht, pictured, with weapons and helicopter pad in a bid to grab a slice of the piracy-protection business. With hijackings exploding off the coast of Somalia — 100 large ships seized in 2008 alone — more and more shippers were hiring security guards for their vessels or even chartering Tanzanian or Yemeni military vessels for protection.

Blackwater, now called “Xe,” dubbed their pirate-fighter McArthur and advertised the ship’s services to shipping firms. But no one jumped, and McArthur idled at a Virginia port for two years, her crew slowly going crazy.

Blackwater finally gave up and put McArthur up for sale in Spain in recent months, sparking a rather bitter debate between online journalists over the virtues of mercenary pirate-fighters. But one experienced maritime security specialist confirms that the idea, fundamentally, is sound. John Dalby, head of security company Marinerisk, told me last week he is “looking at” buying McArthur. The vessel wasn’t the problem. Blackwater’s reputation for war crimes in Iraq was what prevented the company from getting any work in the piracy-protection biz.

Even so, there’s an even better way to guard against pirates. Instead of hiring separate escort vessels, just place guards like Marinerisk’s aboard ships, Dalby said. “Every ship transiting the area should have four professionals on board — and I don’t mean crews who’ve done a one-week training course in how shoot their fire hoses at pirates.”

More on all this, later.

Shipper Hires Mercenary Pirate-Fighters
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


8 Responses to “Ship-Protection Firm “Looking at” Former Blackwater Pirate-Fighter”

  1. Prestwick says:

    I would think that the MacArthur would be better used as a kind of convoy co-ordination ship, managing large convoys going through the Gulf of Aden and managing the security personel posted on the various ships.

  2. FooMan2008 says:

    while a convoy systems does (and has) worked, it requires a more limited (in number of attackers) opponent to work really well, thus enabling the escort to be a deterent. The amount of time and effort it takes a merchant (line) operator, is not worth the real risk to their ships, there were several hundred thousand transits of pirate waters and less than 2,000 total attacks (worldwide) of pirates last year.

  3. SM says:

    Blackwater had its own navy? I never knew, and following some of those links I can see why. A few guards and a machine gun per ship does seem like it would be more economical.

  4. C.G. Berube says:

    Blackwater did not have a navy per se. It had one ship which you see above. It did not succeed in its intended purpose to serve as an escort ship as the company did not get any contracts for this service.

  5. SM says:

    Right, C.G., I read that. Private individuals and groups have owned armed ships in many times and places, but I’d never heard that Blackwater/Xe did, probably because their ship has been sitting in harbour waiting for a contract which never came.

  6. DB says:

    We all know that this is all about deterrent. The point is to stop entry or access to pirates in hot zones. The problem now is that these recognised zones are so over protected it’s having the effect of sending the groups further afield to have less resistance. Armed SST are a positive measure and one that should be adopted by every owner/operator, from port side to open ocean the ships loading and transit is under the watchful eye of the PST aboard.

  7. Dannte Eskew says:

    Maritime convoy security operations definitly sounds like a field for any security company / protection personnel to take a close look at. It could definitly take off in the near future. Im not a maritime security specialist but I am a well qualified highly trained convoy security gunner trained , tried, tested and proven on many many unfortunate ocassions during operation iraqi freedom 2. I was the go to gunner on many ocassions having completed over 180 day and night time convoy missions and several humanitarian missions through out the northeran region which required close protection of high ranking liason. Im kind of selling my skill and experience here maybe in hopes of getting with a security firm that specializes in this type of work. I am more than willing to recieve OJT for the maritime protection field. If it requires schooling so be it. If any security employer reads this and you feel I could be a asset to your team please contact me at . Thank you

  8. We have a combined service of 50 years in the maritme business and security,RI, over an escort service covering West African coast from DAKAR in Senegal toward the Horn of Africa.
    our armed teams are fully qualified,RI offer short or long term protection escort services.
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