There is a growing realisation that naval forces, many of which remain subject to swingeing cuts, cannot eliminate maritime piracy on their own. The role of the private maritime security sector in combating this scourge therefore continues to grow apace.
Scores of private maritime security companies (PMSC) now offer protective services to vessels transiting piracy-prone sea areas. Most specialise in supplying on-board security teams, while an increasing number operate armed escort vessels. The quality of service provided can reportedly vary markedly, and some PMSCs prove to be short-lived enterprises. It is an industry ripe for consolidation.
There have been some recent significant developments on the private escort vessel front. Brooking Shipping has commissioned two new purpose-built, armoured 36-metre support, escort and intervention vessels for operations in East African and Gulf of Aden waters. Also, private interests in UK are refitting the former Royal Navy of Oman patrol ship ‘Defender’ for anti-piracy duties. Armed with 40-millimetre cannon, the 38-metre ‘Defender’ is the most potent PMSC escort seen to date, to be deployed off East Africa escorting towed oil platforms.
Now comes news of a major technological and operational advance in the private maritime intelligence sector. A dedicated anti-piracy intelligence facility has just been commissioned, the latest venture by UK-based maritime intelligence outfit Dryad Maritime. It represents a new level of sophistication for private maritime security, and is intended to assist both commercial vessels and cruising yachts.