Marine convoy protection service on the horizon


Maritime piracy is now so entrenched that companies have to incorporate private maritime security services into their business models, according to Anthony Sharp, chief executive of Typhon, a new company that will launch a marine convoy protection service this year.

“It is substantial and can cause significant damage to a company’s bottom line,” said Sharp. He singled out ransoms, insurance premiums, rerouting ships away from piracy risk zones, fuel costs associated with increasing speeds at which vessels transit and the cost of naval forces as expenditure that will affect profitability.
“There is also the human cost of piracy and while not quantifiable in economic terms, it is nonetheless a high cost, with crew being taken hostage, some killed, some being held for up to 18 months and the associated trauma,” he said.

Add these factors to comments made by Russian Navy Rear Admiral Vasily Lyashok on the flexibility, adaptability and better organisation of Somali pirates, including more modern weapons and communications and Sharp sees the cost of maritime security as having to become part and parcel of operations.
“Piracy is a concern companies must pay close attention to,” he said.

Typhon plans to launch its marine convoy protection service this year. The service will see a mother ship, crewed by capable ex-soldiers, marines and Special Forces operators, accompanying ship operators in transit through piracy hotspots including the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Guinea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Mother ship crew will deploy on protection tasks in any number of rigid inflatable hulls rather than as now with security operators onboard potential pirate targets.

He did not give an indication of either the size of the mother ship, the number of crew or deployable reaction boats.

According to studies quantifying the cost of piracy conducted by One Earth Future (OEF) Foundation, piracy is costing the global economy between $7-12 billion a year and the global cost of Somali piracy is between $6.6 and $6.9 billion a year.

Although there has been a decrease in reported piracy off the coast of Somalia, attacks are escalating in other locations including the Gulf of Guinea, Indonesia and further afield. According to the International Maritime Bureau “Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships Report 2012”, three locations out of eight reported the highest incidences of piracy for the year: Indonesia (81%), Somalia (49 %), and Nigeria (27%). The remaining five locations listed were Togo (15%), Red Sea (13%), Gulf of Aden (13%), Malaysia (12%) and Bangladesh (11%).
“The reported decrease in piracy in Somalia has a lot to do with an extended period of monsoonal weather, rerouting of vessels to the western Indian coastline rather than around the Cape of Good Hope, the presence of foreign naval forces and the use of private maritime security firms to deter pirates. There has also been widespread under-reporting of piracy incidents to avert escalating insurance premiums,” Sharp said.
“With falling naval budgets across the globe, there is a chance countries will begin to reduce the level of security they offer and eventually, they will withdraw their navies from some of the world’s most dangerous waters.
“Should this happen attacks will escalate as the threat is still there and pirate networks are heavily armed. Companies transporting goods across high-risk waters need to incorporate a bespoke security model into their plans,” Sharp warned.