PMSCs, pirates and territorial issues
An overview of current maritime security issues facing the shipping and security industries.
Private anti-piracy navies: how warships for hire are changing maritime security
By Emil Maine
I recently sat down with John-Clark Levin, coauthor of Private Anti-Piracy Navies: How Warships for Hire are Changing Maritime Security. For those of you interested in the subject of private maritime security, Levin’s book “is intended to provide a contextualized understanding of the historical origins, current state, and future prospects of this fast-changing sector.” Rather than simply rehash Joseph Hammond’s earlier interview of Levin, I decided to take the discussion in a slightly different direction.
EM: Some experts have argued that pirates off West Africa benefit from stable governments that provide easy access to corrupt officials and a steady stream of valuable targets. How does this complicate or undermine the effectiveness of private security contractors?
JCL: This undermines the effectiveness of private security contractors, because West African governments are generally quite hostile to foreign maritime security companies. Armed guards or escort vessels are prohibited from entering territorial waters, which introduces unnecessary hassle and danger. Merchant ships carrying armed security must stop at the twelve-mile limit and either lighter the guards off onto another vessel, or dispose of their arms. This has often forced shipping companies to hire local paramilitary groups for protection in territorial waters. This is a very bad thing, because it takes security out of the hands forces that are internationally accountable, and entrusts it to shadowy and unregulated entities. But because the arrangement is lining the pockets of a corrupt few, there’s political incentive to keep it going.
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