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The stark truth about Somali piracy is that the presence of allied naval forces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean has failed to curtail it. The area to be patrolled is simply too vast. It’s like throwing in more cats to catch the mice in a mansion that’s expanded to a thousand rooms, including a hidden attic. In light of this, the use of private armed security could well be a matter of necessity for many ship owners. But where to run to for this specialised service? Here’s a glance at seven professional maritime security providers with a brief note on what each one has to offer:

APPDS Maritime Security Ltd

London-based daughter company to Argonautic Personal Protection & Defence Systems Ltd. Describes itself as ‘one of an elite few that can boast that its arms are legal, licensed, and registered’

SERVICES: Ship Security Services (armed, less lethally armed or unarmed security details); Ship Escorts; Anti-piracy Training Courses; Logistical Support (legal provision of defensive tools—from personal equipment through to weaponry); and Port Security

Aspida Maritime Security Corp

A Greek company with offices in Greece and Seychelles.

SERVICES: Onboard Security (armed or unarmed); Patrol Boat Escorts; Consultancy & Training; and Intelligence

FTS – Maritime Security

Started out in 2008 as an armed security agency working in the high crime areas of South Florida, USA. FTS, headed by bemedaled ex-US Marine James Canning Sr, has shifted to maritime security as its primary focus.

SERVICES: Marine Security Patrols. Escort Vessels, Ship Security Services and Port Security Operations

Marine Risk Management SA

Founded in 1986 originally as a cargo loss control company. Headquartered in the Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies (BWI)

SERVICES : Anti-Piracy Prevention and Response (conducted exclusively by ex-maritime Special Forces); Maritime Asset Recovery; Vessel Lay-Ups (hot or cold); Cargo Loss Control; Early Warning Service (discreet warning of financial difficulties without need for examining accounting records); and Special Projects (on behalf of multinationals and government agencies)

Obelisk, International LLC

Licensed, insured and registered Veteran Owned Private Military Security Company (PMSC) headquartered in the Pacific Northwestern United States. CEO is Eoin Stewart, a US Marine who has operated as an infantryman, operations chief, presidential security (Yankee White), provost marshal and counterintelligence specialist

SERVICES: Onboard Maritime Security; Personal Security Details; Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection; Special Projects (can be evaluated on a case by case basis); and Training Services (in alliance with Counter Threat Strategies Global based in San Diego, California)

Salvus Maritime Security Ltd

UK anti-piracy specialist

SERVICES: Shipboard Protective Services (armed and non-lethal protection); Security Training (includes onboard training of ship crews on hardening, anti-piracy & anti-boarding procedures and bridge procedure training for masters); 24/7 Crisis Management & Operations Support; Assessment & Risk Analysis; and Consultancy Services

Securewest International

US specialists in maritime security since 1987

SERVICES: Armed Security Teams (all former personnel of the US or UK armed forces and the (British) Brigade of Gurkhas from Nepal; Escort Vessels; and Security Architecture Services

To be sure, there are other groups itching to provide the muscle to deal with piracy attacks and cash in on the nervousness of the shipping community – including some who pretend to be thorough professionals. Ship owners will have to consider, aside from the service cost, the company’s integrity, personnel, equipment, rules of engagement and compliance with the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers. A hard decision but one that has to be made. ~Barista Uno

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