January 6th, 2013
A private fleet from the United Kingdom will soon sail on the Indian Ocean to help the defense effort against the region’s pirate problem.
Among the fleet is a 10,000-ton flagship and numbers of armored speed boats that will be used for patrols. The fleet will be crewed by a group of 240 ex-marines and navy personnel.
The company funding the venture, Typhon, was set up primarily for this purpose. The mission of this private security company will aim to escort oil tankers, cargo ships and private yachts in the seas off the east coast of Africa.
Although an international naval force has been tackling the problem in east African waters, the area of ocean is nearly as large as North America, and thus is difficult to cover. Executives from Typhon believe that their vessels will help the effort because the do not use incredibly expensive government-built defense technology.
Although multi-billion dollar destroyers and frigates can certainly get the job done, Anthony Sharp, chief executive of Typhon, believes that it’s overkill: “Deploying a billion-pound warship against six guys [pirates] with $500 of kit is not a very good use of the asset.”
Instead, Typhon will offer armored patrol boats outfitted with M4 Carbines, carrying personnel with assault weapons and sniper rifles. The ships will be able to travel up to 40 knots (46 mph) and take bullets from an AK-47. Sharp feels this will be more than enough to deter pirates, who usually operate small skiffs and only rarely carry heavier weaponry such as rocket-propelled grenades.
Of course, deterrence is the primary goal of this private security firm. They do not plan to seek out and initiate firefights with pirates. Typhon will join a growing group of companies providing security to shipping companies, and they plan to fly a national flag that legally permits them to carry weapons into ports.
There have been no successful acts of piracy since July of 2012, making this the longest streak in recent memory without an incident, according the International Maritime Bureau.
Many attribute this success to the proliferation of armed guards riding as security on shipping vessels.