Challenges Facing the U.S. Private Maritime Security Industry

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine combat veteran and member for the House Armed Services Committee, met with senior executives at Skye Maritime, an up and coming California based, veteran owned and operated private maritime security company, to discuss the challenges facing U.S maritime security firms.

“Congressman Hunter is concerned about the rising threat of Somali piracy and cut straight to the issues at hand.  He wanted to know what challenges we face and how he could help – he wanted to understand the nuts and bolts of how we operate our business,” said Mike Slattery, CEO and Co-Founder of Skye Maritime.  “There are certain trade controls that were not meant to apply to us that directly inhibit our ability to conduct maritime security operations in the Indian Ocean – we want to be able to address these issues to allow us to best support our clients, and, ultimately, U.S. foreign policy.”

“As a U.S. company protecting U.S. merchant ships we are at a competitive disadvantage because of these laws we discussed and today we had the opportunity to have a frank discussion with Congressman Hunter.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with his visit,” added Alexander Martin, Skye’s President and Co-Founder.

“Meeting with Congressman Hunter today proved there can be a fantastic synergy between a private sector security company and lawmakers who want a sincerely professional approach to the Somali piracy problem,” says Martin.  “Congressman Hunter is himself a dedicated professional and combat veteran – he understands the piracy issue and was extremely receptive to assisting us with various complications we face.  We are excited at the opportunity to lead the way in the maritime security industry and to be honest stewards of U.S. policy.”

While the U.S. State Department officially supports the use of private maritime security companies (PMSC) by the shipping industry to protect their vessels transiting the Indian Ocean war risk region, the PMSC industry remains highly unregulated with the quality of security provider varying greatly.

“Maritime security has been a virtual cottage industry with security firms standing up all over the world in order to make money fast.  Solid standard operating procedures and rules for the use of force aren’t always employed or adhered to and it is creating an atmosphere that lends itself to increased violence and less accountability,” says Slattery.  “When you approach the market as we did – with the very best trained operators, the deliberate intention of doing everything right and the client and their ships’ crew in mind – we believe you’re achieving a total security solution that truly mitigates risk and protects all parties concerned.”

“Today’s meeting with Congressman Hunter went along way to foster our relationship with his office, in order to maintain our close connections and co-operation so that we may have an ally in our local government,” added Slattery. “We are intent on changing the industry from the bottom-up.  You have to do things right, from the very beginning.  That’s our business model.  There’s simply no other way.  We are excited to keep the dialogue going with members of Congress and the Department of State in order to best support U.S. interests against this threat.”

In recent months Skye Maritime secured a contract with a prominent U.S. shipping company in the Indian Ocean and is preparing for further anti-piracy training and education courses that will enable them to meet the growing demand for a security company that will act with professionalism, discipline and restraint.

Skye Maritime is currently planning on expanding operations to support other clients in the U.S. and overseas.