PMSC Claims Refuted by Sri Lankan Navy
The claims by Advanfort of ‘high crime’ in Sri Lankan waters have been refuted by the Sri Lankan Navy and Avant Garde Maritime Services.
PMSC Claims Refuted by Sri Lankan Navy
In an interesting development, American private maritime security company (PMSC), Advanfort, issued a press release to state that it was moving its embarkation/disembarkation point away from Sri Lanka due to concerns over ‘high crime’ in its waters. We present the statement from Advanfort here, followed by a response from the Sri Lanka Navy via Sri Lankan paper, The Sunday Leader.
The story developed further today when Avant Garde Maritime Services issued a statement, sent to a number of maritime security companies, concerning Advanfort’s press release. Their statement appears at the end of this piece.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: William H. Watson, AdvanFort President
AdvanFort avoiding high-crime Sri Lanka waters in order to better protect clients, crews and cargos
Washington, D.C., November 12, 2013 — In order to better serve our clients, AdvanFort International is now using a location in the western Malacca Strait as the point for disembarkation of its privately-contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) from eastbound transits, and as an embarkation point for westbound transits.
The announcement comes in the wake of reporting that pirates have hijacked a second tanker in a month in the Malacca Strait. However, the company says that the new embarkation/disembarkation point was specifically chosen to prevent client vessels from having to slow or stop in waters off Sri Lanka.
U.S. company officials pointed out that the State Department, in its ‘Threats to Safety and Security’ advisories, continues to warn of ‘ongoing criminal activity around the country, including murder and kidnapping’ in Sri Lanka.
AdvanFort’s intelligence analysts have become aware of increasing (and increasingly organized) crime throughout Sri Lanka, including in anchorages and coastal waters.
Due to this concern, ‘AdvanFort is providing its protective teams free of charge from the western border of the High Risk Area (HRA) to the western end of the Malacca Strait,’ AdvanFort President William H. Watson announced.
‘We want to assure clients that our guards will remain vigilant to threats even beyond the HRA,’
Captain Watson added, noting that the company’s PCASP teams are made up of professionally vetted, decorated military veterans.
Navy Insists Sri Lankan Seas Are Safe
By Waruni Karunarathne
The Navy insists Sri Lankan seas are safe despite concerns raised by a global maritime security company.
AdvanFort International, a global maritime security, training and intelligence operations company in a statement had raised concerns over maritime security in Sri Lankan waters.
According to the officials of AdvanFort International, they have been warned about the threats to safety and security due to increasing crimes in the region.
Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Wanigasooriya however said that the Sri Lankan Navy has not identified any such threats.
He said that Sri Lankan waters have been safe and no pirate activities have been detected in these areas in the recent past.
“We have deployed an adequate number of Navy personnel to ensure safety in the zone. Especially, the East West shipping line is being guarded thoroughly by Sri Lanka Navy,” he said.
AdvanFort International said they have chosen a new embarkation/disembarkation point to prevent their client vessels from slowing or stopping in waters off Sri Lanka. The company has taken measures to provide its protective teams free of charge from the western border of the High Risk Area (HRA) to the western end of the Malacca Strait due to these concerns.
The statement from Avant Garde Maritime Services:
It is observed that information have been disseminated to Private Maritime Security Companies by AdvanFort International, Inc. to the effect that Sri Lankan Waters are unsafe for Seafarers.
This information is totally false and malicious, intended to mislead the Maritime community.
It is pertinent to mention that due to a series of illegal activities conducted by AdvanFort, this company is facing litigation and their vessel ‘MV Seaman Guard Ohio’ is presently in the custody of Indian authorities for conducting illegal Maritime operations (conducting illegal fuelling) and carrying illegal weapons (without flag state approval) and security guards.
To emphasise upon the PMSCs this gravity, previous offences committed by AdvanFort are listed below.
1. It was found that same AdvanFort was operating a floating armoury closer to Sri Lankan waters and there had been Sri Lankan Navy checks on this matter a year back and questioned them on suspicious grounds. Subsequently they were ask to leave Sri Lankan waters.
2. AdvanFort operated a vessel called “MV Seapole One” tried to enter into Maldivian waters by deceiving the Maldivian Authorities stating that it was a cargo ship and needed some repairs on its hull. However, upon inspection Maldivian Authorities found that “MV Seapole One” was neither a cargo ship nor it needed any repairs to its hull. “MV Seapole One” had 2-0 ‘browning’ which generally are not used by maritime companies, for which documentary proof is available.
3. It was about few months back AdvanFort disembarked unarmed sea marshals in Galle and when Sri Lankan Authorities questioned them about the location of the weapons they could not provide a convincing answer. During questioning of sea marshals, they indicated that their weapons were handed over to a small boat at sea. They were investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Sri Lanka Police and later released. This incident was informed to the Embassy of United States in Sri Lanka. Subsequently, AGMS received a letter from AdvanFort, apologising to the incident.
4. Recently, about few months back vessel “MV Ohio” quoted they were a floating armoury and requested bunkering from a Shipping Agent in Sri Lanka. This matter was referred to us by the respective Shipping Agent in Colombo and asked for permission from Ministry of Defence(MOD) for bunkering. MOD issued a Letter of Authority for the bunkering of the vessel. Having received the authorization from the MOD the vessel did not turn up for bunkering which prompted to develop suspicion over this issue.
5. It was then we made inquiries from the local agent of the said vessel and found that the vessel belong to AdvanFort, but never knew more details of the vessel and its activities. This promoted us to suspect their motive of securing MOD authorization for bunkering and later not showing up for same. We then requested for the details of the owner of AdvanFort and received Mr. Ahmed Farajallah’s contact details. Repeated attempts to get connected to Mr. Farajallah were in vain. Later through our intelligence it was found that AdvanFort was operating an undeclared floating armoury off the coast Galle (Sri Lanka) and had conducted approximately 25 embarkation / disembarkation operations from our legitimate floating armoury “MV Mahanuwara”. Subsequently this undeclared floating armoury belonging to AdvanFort was arrested by the Indian Navy.
6. With the said undeclared floating armoury operations of AdvanFort off the coast Galle, we have reasonable doubts about the legality of their weapons and the parties with whom they had their dealings with. We had a reasonable doubt about the legality of AdvanFort weapons, and did not know whether weapons were obtained from subversive elements.
7. The judgment (For the Criminal Case) against AdvanFort for the offence “Aiding and abetting the making of a false statement during the acquisition of firearms” by United States District Courtof Eastern District of Virginia on 08th March 2013 and 05th September 2013 respectively, stern warning had been issued to AdvanFort not to involve in such offences in future. We also found that they were placed on supervised probation for a term of “Two Years”, and they should not leave the judicial district without the permission of the court. Further they should notify courts any changes in employment and are not supposed to possess or acquire firearms in the United States.
8. When we analyze all above incidents and the USA Court order, we are extremely doubtful of the operational behaviour of AdvanFort Company (now AdvanFort International, Inc; a Delaware Company) in this region.
Please be informed that henceforth, we will not permit any PMSCs to disembark AdvanFort weapons / personnel to any of the AGMS Floating Armouries.
As AdvanFort is blacklisted is Sri Lanka, any weapons / personnel of this company arriving in Sri Lanka will be arrested/ confiscated and necessary legal action will be initiated.
We have informed the Embassy of the USA in Sri Lanka about the illegal activities of AdvanFort. It is found that AdvanFort is using the good name of USA for their advantages. Also, it is pertinent to mention that USA Government has not issued any letter/document to AdvanFort to engage in floating armoury operations in Indian Ocean.
PMSCs are informed not to get carried away by false information circulated by AdvanFort with regard to safety of Seafarersin Sri Lankan Waters, which is secure where Maritime Operations are carried out at present with 100 % safety.
Sri Lanka Navy has also issued a statement on 18th November 2013, refuting this false information circulated by AdvanFort.
Major Nissanka Senadhipathi
Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd