Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Private Army Formed to Fight Somali Pirates Leaves Troubled Legacy

The New York Times  October 4, 2012

Eric Prince

WASHINGTON — It seemed like a simple idea: In the chaos that is Somalia, create a sophisticated, highly trained fighting force that could finally defeat the pirates terrorizing the shipping lanes off the Somali coast.

But the creation of the Puntland Maritime Police Force was anything but simple. It involved dozens of South African mercenaries and the shadowy security firm that employed them, millions of dollars in secret payments by the United Arab Emirates, a former clandestine officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, and Erik Prince, the billionaire former head of Blackwater Worldwide who was residing at the time in the emirates.

And its fate makes the story of the pirate hunters for hire a case study in the inherent dangers in the outsourced wars in Somalia, where the United States and other countries have relied on proxy forces and armed private contractors to battle pirates and, increasingly, Islamic militants.

That strategy has had some success, including a recent offensive by Kenyan and African Union troops to push the militant group Al Shabab from its stronghold in the port city of Kismayu.

But with the antipiracy army now abandoned by its sponsors, the hundreds of half-trained and well-armed members of the Puntland Maritime Police Force have been left to fend for themselves at a desert camp carved out of the sand, perhaps to join up with the pirates or Qaeda-linked militants or to sell themselves to the highest bidder in Somalia’s clan wars — yet another dangerous element in the Somali mix.

Please read the entire story at the The New York Times

October 5, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SHIVER ME TIMBERS

Somali pirates less a scourge of the seas as private security firms proliferate

The Daily Exclusive Benjamin Carlson July 30, 2012

Somali pirate attacks are plunging — thanks, in part, to a group of heavily armed ex-Navy SEALs putting their skills to use in the private sector.

In the first six months of 2012, pirate attacks plummeted 33 percent, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Through June, Somali pirates made 69 attacks, resulting in 212 captured hostages. That was down from 163 attacks in the same six-month period in 2011.

Piracy hit its highest point last year, with attacks on 544 ships from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

One of the biggest factors spurring the drop is the use of maritime security companies that specialize in anti-piracy.

“The fact of the matter is, if you didn’t have private armed guards, it would definitely be much more dangerous — the drop would not have been so significant,” said Michael Frodl, chairman of C-Level Maritime Risks, a consulting company.

For $50,000 per voyage, shipping companies can hire a team of four ex-Navy SEALs to accompany their vessel on a 10-day voyage through the most dangerous waters in the world — the Gulf of Aden, Straits of Malacca and northern Indian Ocean — to thwart hijackings and hostage-taking.

How good are they? Thus far, not a single ship that has had armed guards aboard has been taken, said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association. “It’s a 100 percent solution.”

August 2, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private patrol boats to tackle Somali pirates

BBC Africa  May 29, 2012

The private company Typhon is preparing to operate alongside the world’s navies, offering protection to cargo vessels sailing around the Horn of Africa.

But unlike other private security firms which put guards on board other people’s ships, it will offer vessels of its own.

The chief executive of Typhon, Anthony Sharpe, says the plan is to rendezvous with cargo ships which sign up for their protection and form them into a convoy.

The company says it will establish what it is describing as an exclusion zone of one kilometre around the ships.

The company is buying three boats, which are currently being fitted out in Singapore.

Each of its craft will have up to 40 security officers, drawn from former British Royal Marines, as well as a crew of 20.

The ships will be fitted with machine guns and the staff will have rifles.

But Mr Sharpe told the BBC it is not a question of out-gunning the pirates.

“It’s not about lethal force matching lethal force,” he said.

“It’s more like applying a burglar alarm to the problem and the thief will be deterred – so will be looking elsewhere.”

Please read the entire article here

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Somalia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pirate attack foiled on US ship in Gulf of Oman

Associated Press at MSN News Center  May 24, 2012

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk says armed guards have thwarted a pirate attack on one of its U.S.-flagged cargo ships in the Gulf of Oman.

The Copenhagen-headquartered company says “multiple pirate skiffs” headed toward the 488-feet (148-meter) long Maersk Texas on Wednesday, despite receiving “clear warning signals” from guards onboard.

The pirates opened fire on the ship, and guards returned fire, eventually forcing the pirates to abandon their attack.

No one was injured in the incident and the ship continued on its voyage to the U.S. No other details were immediately available Thursday.

Somali pirates have been increasing their range, but attacks around the vital oil lanes near the Strait of Hormuz remain relatively rare.

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May 24, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shooting to Kill Pirates Risks Blackwater Moment of High Seas

Bloomberg May 9, 2012


Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images
Since 2008, gangs of Somali pirates linked to clans in the failed state on the eastern coast of Africa, have carried out more than 800 attacks on ships, from private yachts to oil supertankers.

At first the video depicts a seemingly calm, sun-drenched sea from aboard the Avocet, until a pale blue skiff appears in the distance, cutting rapidly across the Indian Ocean toward the bulk ship’s starboard side.

After a tense radio exchange between the ship’s armed guards, who believe they’re under attack by pirates, their team leader steps through the bridge door and orders warning shots. Immediately, he and another guard fire dozens of rounds at the oncoming boat. The blaze of gunfire continues after the skiff crashes into the ship, with guards shooting down into the vessel, and as it then trails behind the Avocet.

“Second skiff coming in,” he shouts, then they turn and begin firing on the new boat, and the video ends.

At least some of the boats’ occupants were probably killed or injured, said Thomas Rothrauff, president of Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Trident Group Inc., which provided the ship’s security crew. He said the incident on March 25 last year was the second attempt to hijack the Avocet in three days. After spotting rocket-propelled grenades on the first skiff, the guards feared for their lives. The shootings were justified and the guards acted responsibly, Rothrauff said, firing warnings before aiming at the boat.

The gunfire exchange highlights a lack of rules governing the use of weapons on the high seas amid questions over how much force is legal and necessary to fight Somali piracy attacks, which targeted a record 237 ships last year. The video, presented at a shipping conference in December and leaked on the internet last month, has fueled debate over when is it acceptable to open fire — and to keep shooting

Please see the original with more photos and videos here

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Piracy fighters use floating armories

Associated Press  March 22, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating armories in international waters so ships that want armed anti-piracy guards for East Africa’s pirate-infested waters can cut costs and circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry officials say.

Companies and legal experts say the operation of the armories is a “legal gray area” because few, if any, governments have laws governing the practice. Some security companies have simply not informed the governments of the flag their ship is flying, industry officials said.

Some members of the private security sector are urging governments and industry leaders to impose standards on the unchecked practice of storing weapons offshore to equip anti-pirate forces off Somalia’s coast.

Storing guns on boats offshore really took off as a business last year. Britain — where many of the operators are from — is investigating the legality of the practice, which has received little publicity outside of shipping industry circles.

Floating armories have become a viable business in the wake of increased security practices by the maritime industry, which has struggled for years to combat attacks by Somali pirates. But those in the industry say the standards vary widely

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March 22, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Somalia | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somali Pirates Ransom British Hostage Judith Tebbutt

Daily Beast March 21, 2012

On Tuesday afternoon, in the small inland Somali town of Adado, law enforcement officials gazed skyward as a single-engine aircraft circled close overhead. The plane—a U.K.-owned KingAir 200 operated by the British company Phoenix Aviation and reportedly chartered by the British private security firm Salama Fikira—dropped a sack containing an estimated $800,000 to $1 million in cash. The stash was ransom for 56-year-old Judith Tebbutt, a British citizen held hostage for nearly seven months by Somali pirates.

Adado has been a hotbed of hostage rescues this year: Navy SEALs staged a dramatic operation to recover American Jessica Buchanan from the town in January. Tebbutt had been in the pirates’ possession since September 11 of last year, when a Somali gang kidnapped her from an upscale resort in a remote region of Kenya near Somalia’s lawless border. During the abduction, the pirates shot and killed her husband, David; then slipped into a boat and glided north into the country that even locals call “the Land of Death”.

Tebbutt’s initial captors, a dozen or so fishermen and former hotel employees in the area, are thought to be originally from the Bajuni islands in Kenya, and are purported to have connections with the radical Somali terror group Al-Shabab. They sold Tebbutt to a second band of pirates based in Haradhere, on the northern Somali coast. The group that received the ransom this week was from the Ceyr and Saleeban—two parts of the large Hawiye clan—and the gangleader is known to be a man called Bashir.

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March 22, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , | Leave a comment

African piracy a threat to U.S. security?

UPI SecurityIndustry  March 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) — Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in Africa pose a threat with ripple effects for U.S. homeland security and must be tackled as such, security industry experts say.

The industry’s experts want specialist teams from commercial security firms deployed on every ship that sails in the danger zone in east Africa, where most recent piracy incidents have taken place.

“Success at sea by the early Somali pirates has attracted major organized-crime syndicates, Muslim extremists and a more robust and sophisticated confederacy of operatives,” Jim Jorrie, chief executive officer of ESPADA marine services argued in the March 2012 issue of Homeland Security Today magazine.

“While this is all happening half a world away, it has put more operating cash in the hands of extremists, including al-Qaida — and that should be of no small concern for us in the United States,” Jorrie said

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March 19, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Private Security Firms Poaching Elite Troops

Sky News   March 17, 2012

A boom in recruitment by security firms guarding ships against Somali pirates has caused a stream of troops to leave elite units for lucrative contracts in the private sector.

The loss of veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly corporals and sergeants, “rips the skeleton” from the bodies of units like the Royal Marines and Parachute Regiment, the commander of 3 Commando during the Falklands War, Julian Thompson, has warned.

According to Ministry of Defence figures, 570 Royal Marines and 170 members of 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Parachute Regiment left the forces between 2009 and 2011.

Even though the figure for the Marines includes those who were medically discharged, the rate at which elite soldiers from both units have been leaving is around double the average.

Among the Marines, the MoD admitted, the bulk of those leaving voluntarily were senior privates, corporals and sergeants. These non-commissioned officers lead sections of around eight men, or platoons of around 30. They are responsible for life-and-death tactical decisions during fighting.

No definite data is available on what soldiers do when they leave the services but senior officers have been deeply concerned about the losses of experienced troops to the private security companies for more than a year.

“Anecdotally, between 1st June 2011 and 30th November 2011, 54 soldiers from 3 Para have applied for Premature Voluntary Release. Of these, 24 have claimed they were seeking work in the private security industry,” an MoD source said.

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March 17, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somali piracy drives security boom

Pirate Wars  March 16, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya — Just a couple of years ago, nations with large navies looked with suspicion at the private, armed guards that some ships were using to ward off pirates.

No longer.

These days, such guards are embraced as the best defense against increasingly desperate, greedy and violent pirates.

“The unique selling point for the security companies is that to date no ship with armed guards has been hijacked,” said Stephen Askins, a leading expert on maritime security and piracy at the international law firm Ince and Co. International Maritime Bureau (IMB) figures confirm this.

Armed guards are now on about 1,500 voyages every month, according to the Security Association for the Maritime Industry.

“About half of all ships [now] use armed guards, up from 25 percent a year earlier,” said Andrew Mwangura, editor of the Piracy Report, a journal in Mombasa.

Providing ships with security is a lucrative and growing business: Ship owners spent over $1 billion on “security equipment and armed guards” last year, according to “The Economic Cost of Piracy,” a report by One Earth Future, a non-governmental organization promoting better governance.

Hiring a four-man team for a single voyage through pirate waters costs about $100,000, according to security experts. They say there are hundreds of these teams operating off the Somali coast at any time

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March 16, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Private Security Team Saves Greek Ship From Somali Pirates

ERR News  February 29, 2012
The Estonian private security company ESC Global Security fended off pirates attempting to hijack a Greek freighter off the Somali coast on Tuesday.

The incident occurred around 15:00 local time by the Port of Salalah. Eight pirates, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and one RPG, were aboard an approaching vessel, according to the company.

“[The security company] opened fire after all other deterrence measures had been tried and failed to discourage the pirates,” said Jaanus Rahumägi, company director and former MP.

Meanwhile, the company contacted the forces of the EU naval operation in Somalia, which prepared to dispatch a chopper for backup. But at 16:00 the pirates retreated and reinforcements were not needed

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Somalia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shipboard Security Teams and the Rules of Engagement

Captain Rich Madden at G Captain

February 15, 2012 will be a date many in the maritime security industry will remember for a long time. It was the day that the first innocent deaths were laid at the feet of an armed security team in the Indian Ocean.

During a routine transit 22 nautical miles off the West coast of India, the embarked security team onboard the Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie opened fire on a fishing boat that was apparently approaching their vessel. In the aftermath, 2 unarmed Indian fishermen were killed.

Armed security teams have become more prevalent in the Indian Ocean Basin and the Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa (GOA/HOA) region due to the explosive rise of Somali piracy since 2007. With increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea off and in Southeast Asia, it seems you might find them onboard a vessel almost anywhere. One of the greatest concerns with putting armed security onboard a vessel is responsibility; Responsibility for weapons laws – responsibility for taking lethal action and ultimately, responsibility for deaths or injuries.

Please read the entire post at G Captain

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Maritime Security, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pirate Surge That Never Was

MarineLink
David Rider, Neptune Maritime
Thursday, February 16, 2012, 1:45 PM

In September 2011, as the monsoon began to blow itself out, there were grave warnings from a number of sources and analysts that the shipping industry could expect to see a significant surge in pirate activity as conditions in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean became more favorable. Captain Keith Blount, chief of staff with EU NAVFOR, told the press1, “I think we are going to see a surge in piracy because we always have done at this time when the southwest monsoon abates and the seas become flatter.”

But as conditions cleared, the anticipated increase in pirate activity failed to materialize, to the surprise of many in the industry. This was all the more remarkable given the business model of Somali pirates, which demands that they hijack high value targets which can be ransomed for huge sums which are then used to pay off the investors who supply the equipment used by the pirates, their food and that of their hostages and so on. Without a reasonable turnover of hijacked vessels, pirates begin to run up big bills in their home ports and those cut into their profit margins. Pirates towards the end of 2011 were very much on the back foot, and successful hijackings were suddenly few and far between.

Please read the entire article here

February 16, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Somalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philippines to allow private security guards on ships as anti-piracy measure

Philippine Daily Inquirer  January 30, 2012

Manilla, Philippines—The Philippines has given Manila-flagged merchant vessels the go-ahead to deploy private security groups to minimize the risk Filipino seafarers face from Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The move, however, is “subject to Philippine shipping companies” adherence to strict guidelines promulgated by the Maritime Industry Authority and the International Maritime Organization,” the DFA said Monday.

“In their participation at meetings to combat piracy in the IMO, the United Nations and other fora, Philippine government officials have been advocating the importance of promoting the safety of Filipino seamen. This advocacy is being supported by other governments,” it also said.

A total of 26 Filipino seamen on board three foreign-flagged vessels are still being held by pirates in east Africa.

“The longest one in detention is a crew member of the MV Iceberg 1, which was hijacked by pirates on Jan. 29, 2010 off the Port of Aden in Yemen,” the DFA disclosed.

Between 2006 and 2011, a total of 769 sailors from the Philippines were seized by pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It is believed that all but the 26 were released unharmed and upon payment by their principals of ransom.

Earlier this month, the DFA said the government had come up with a plan to protect Filipino sailors from Somali pirates.

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, Somalia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

American engineer kidnapped by gunmen in Somalia

The Daily Mail   January 21, 2012

Gunmen kidnapped an American man in the northern Somali town of Galkayo on Saturday, officials said.

The gunmen surrounded the man’s car shortly after the man left the airport, said policeman Abdi Hassan Nur, who witnessed the incident. He said they then forced the American into another vehicle.

Galkayo is on the border between the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland and a region known as Galmudug. It is ruled by forces friendly to the U.N.-backed Somali government.

A minister from the Galmudug administration said the kidnapped man is an American engineer who came to Somalia to carry out an evaluation for building a deep water port in the town of Hobyo.

The gunmen severely beat the foreigner’s Somali companion when he begged them not to take the man, said the minister.

The minister spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

A staff member at the Embassy Hotel, where the man was staying, said the American had gone to the airport to drop off an Indian colleague. The hotel said that the man had both American and German citizenship.

The staff member asked not to be identified because he was not supposed to give out information about guests.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Kidnapped, Pirates, Somalia | , , , , | Leave a comment