AGMS slams Advanfort Sri Lanka danger claims
Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) has responded to Advanfort International’s claims that Sri Lankan coastal waters and anchorages are unsafe, labelling the information “totally false and malicious” and “intended to mislead the maritime community.”
The operator of a government-approved floating armoury MV Mahanuwara in Sri Lanka went on to list what it alleges are “previous offences committed by Advanfort” including claims of deceiving Maldivian authorities and operating a floating armoury close to Sri Lankan waters. AGMS also cited court judgements against Advanfort in the US earlier this year for “aiding and abetting the making of a false statement during the acquisition of firearms.”
AGMS rounded off its list of alleged offences with a warning to Advanfort and its associates, “please be informed that henceforth, we will not permit any PMSCs (private maritime security companies) to disembark AdvanFort weapons / personnel to any of the AGMS floating armouries. As AdvanFort is blacklisted in Sri Lanka, any weapons / personnel of this company arriving in Sri Lanka will be arrested / confiscated and necessary legal action will be initiated.”
AGMS urged PMSCs not to “get carried away by false information circulated by Advanfort with regard to safety of Seafarers in Sri Lankan Waters, which is secure where maritime operations are carried out at present with 100% safety”.
The Sri Lankan Navy also echoed AGMS’ defence in local media, stating that the Sri Lankan Navy has identified no such threats and that no pirate activity has been detected in the recent past. “We have deployed an adequate number of Navy personnel to ensure safety in the zone. Especially, the East West shipping lane is being guarded thoroughly by Sri Lanka Navy,” said Commander Kosala Wanigsooriya.
The comments out of Sri Lanka relate to an Advanfort press release dated 13 November, where the PMSC announced that its embarkation point for westbound transits of the high risk area had been moved from Sri Lanka to the Western Malacca Strait. The reasoning behind this move was attributed to AdvanFort’s intelligence analysts, who are said to “have become aware of increasing (and increasingly organized) crime throughout Sri Lanka, including in anchorages and coastal waters.”
Advanfort also cites the US Department of State’s warnings of newspaper and other reports of “ongoing criminal activity around the country, including murder and kidnapping”, a statement that has been in place on the US government agency’s website since May 2011, and has evident in similar forms since 2005.
In an emailed response to Seatrade Global’s enquiries, Advanfort maintained that, “the allegations by AGMS are unfortunate and without merit. AdvanFort operates only under the highest standards of legality and integrity wherever it is hired to provide protection to our clients.” It added that its statement was released “following reports of pirates hijacking two tankers within one month in the Malacca Strait.”