Editors note: The following statement is a response issued by Neptune Maritime Security, a British security firm specializing in safeguarding crew, cargo and corporate reputations for the commercial maritime industry.
The release by Wikileaks of cables related to Somalia and maritime piracy over the past weekend (as reported in The Daily Telegraph) make interesting reading for anyone involved in the shipping or cargo industries. In the first cable, sent from the US Embassy in Tokyo in June 2009, loopholes in Japan’s Self-Defense Force were highlighted. Since only two escort ships could be made available, the cable alleged that some cargo firms instead employed: “services offered by a British crisis consultant firm” to safeguard their vessels, although the cable failed to actually name any firm.
The cable went on to say: “These services dispatch former Special Air Service members of the British Army to cargo ships only when they cruise off Somalia.” It continues, “Customers expect that since they would also become hostage if the ship were captured, the British Navy would rescue the ship.”
Reactions to the cable’s release in the professional private security industry have been mixed. Clearly, any shipping company pinning its hopes on a rescue based on past military connections is being naÃ¯ve at best and negligent towards both crew and cargo at worst, although the industry appreciates the negative connotations private security can often have. Despite this story being now almost two years old, it does little to re-assure an already nervous industry that private security is indeed the answer to piracy fears, as Nigel Booker, director of Neptune Maritime Services notes. “It’s interesting that this nameless company is dubbed a ‘crisis consultant’ rather than a security company; there is a gulf of difference between the two, no pun intended. Companies like ours provide both active and passive security on-board vessels, be they private or commercial. A crisis consultant would appear to prepare for the inevitable. Neptune Maritime Security does not believe in the inevitable. That’s what good planning is for.”
It remains the case that no vessel with an armed security detail has so far been successfully hijacked, something which the industry often fails to acknowledge. While the use of weapons remains a dividing one, Booker believes that there is still plenty of room for unarmed security, too. “A professional security firm has to offer its clients all options. It would be remiss not to, given the international situation. That’s why Neptune Maritime Security offers a wide spectrum of security options and consults. We have to, given the varied nature of the contracts we receive and our client list.”
If the cable is to be believed, then until relatively recently some companies operating in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden were doing so in the hopes that, should the worst-case scenario unfold, their vessel would be rescued by the British Royal Navy. Any company actively pursuing this as a security policy would be wise to consult recognised industry experts, as Booker points out. “Neptune Maritime Security was founded by former members of the Special Boat Service, the recognised experts at amphibious counter-terrorism. Operatives are hand picked by the directors and trained in all aspects of maritime law and adhere to our strict rules for the use of force, as well as cultural sensitivity. We pride ourselves on being the best by hiring only the best, and that is reflected in the level of service Neptune Maritime Security delivers.”
The Neptune Maritime Security website can be found HERE.