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: Retired sea dogs
to protect shipping
from Somali pirates
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Published: 06 January, 2013, 22:33
Arms, Conflict, Military, Africa
, UK, Piracy
made on January 7, 2010 shows an armed Somali pirate (AFP Photo/Mohamed Dahir)
The UK's first private navy
in almost 200 years has been set up by a group of pioneering businessmen, former marines and retired captains and soldiers to defend shipping
off the coast of east Africa
from the threat of pirates.
They are frustrated at the inability of the Royal Navy, NATO, the European Union Naval Task Force and other navies to guarantee security
for shipping in an area of ocean the size of North America.
ďThey canít do the job because they havenít got the budget
and deploying a billion-pound warship against six guys [pirates] with $500 of kit is not a very good use of the asset,Ē Anthony Sharp, chief executive of Typhon, the company behind the venture, told the Times.
Typhon is chaired by Simon Murray a millionaire business man with a colorful past including a spell in the French Foreign Legion as a teenager and walking unsupported to the South Pole aged 63.
Other Typhon directors include Admiral Henry Ulrich, former commander of US Naval Forceís Europe
, General Sir Jack Deverell, former commander in chief Allied
Forces Northern Europe
and Lord Dannatt Britainís former chief of the general staff.
The navy will include a 10,000 ton mother ship and high speed armored patrol boats and will be led by a former Royal Navy commodore and 240 former marines and other sailors. The marines will be armed with close quarter weapons such as the M4 carbine and sniper rifles with a range of 2 km.
It will escort its first convoy of oil
tankers, bulk carriers and the occasional yacht along the east coast
of Africa in late March or early April. They will aim to deter pirates rather than engage in firefights.
They will sail under a British flag, which would give them the legal
right to carry their weapons into harbor rather than keep them on platforms in international waters.
The navy will be funded by shipping firms in much the same way as the cargo ships sailing under Russian, Chinese and Indian flags
hire private convoys.
The Russian navy as well the navies of China
and other countries also patrol the coast off east Africa.
They are part a multinational coalition task force, called Combined Task Force 150, which took on the role of fighting piracy
off of the coast of Somalia
by establishing a Maritime Security
Patrol Area (MSPA) within the Gulf of Aden.
But despite such a large international presence in the area, piracy still remains a problem although the pirates are now on the back foot.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks had by October 2012 dropped to a six-year low, with only 1 ship attacked in the third quarter compared to 36 during the same period in 2011. As of 31st December 2012, the pirates were holding four large ships and an estimated 114 hostages.
Maybe it will become safe to sail again