January 29, 2013
Typhon Maritime Security Service announced the launch of its first marine convoy escort service, designed to enable “ship operators to transit the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in unprecedented safety while saving time and money.”
The private naval protection service is the first to be formed in over 200 years. It’s the brain-child of Simon Murray, the Chairman of commodity giant Glencore, with the backing of a number of other U.K. businessmen. It recruits former military personnel, especially ex-Royal Marines and sailors, to man a mother ship and high-speed patrol boats, charged with protecting convoys of merchant ships, as they transit the pirate infested waters off Somalia.
Typhon’s bulletin said: “Piracy is spreading rapidly from its Somalian roots across the Indian Ocean as far as the Gulf of Guinea, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Maritime criminals are becoming more audacious, more violent, better equipped and more adept.”
It also noted that the “wind-down of the EUNAFOR’s naval presence in the Gulf of Aden in 2014 is likely to coincide with a major escalation in piracy in the Indian Ocean. In this theatre of operations piracy still remains a serious threat to some of the world’s busiest shipping routes. At present 147 hostages are being held by pirates in Somalia.”
If anything, the situation in West Africa poses an even greater potential threat. Typhon explained that in the area around the Gulf of Guinea, “there is no UK, EUNAVFOR or US Naval presence (nor is there planned to be).” However, “maritime crime is escalating and is spiraling to such levels that the UN Security Council has recognized it as a specific threat to international security (Resolutions 2018  and 2039 ). It is estimated that the state of Nigeria is losing $1 billion of crude oil through theft every month.”
Forming convoys with private armed escorts is certainly an innovative, and potentially effective, method of assuring marine safety. “To date the only effective commercially available counter-measure has been provided by ride-on guards otherwise known as VPDs (Vessel Protection Detachments or Details),” Typhon said. “This protection model provides a quantity of armed personnel to live aboard the client ship for the duration of the transit. However, the client vessels have to detour for their embarkation and disembarkation often at significant cost. The range of protection from pirates is narrow: 400 meters [1240 feet] from the ‘target’ ship.”
Typhon’s Integrated Protection Model operates on different parameters. It starts by “detecting any threats of piracy at long range – this is done onshore in Typhon’s Operations Centre in the UAE,” the bulletin explained. “It enables Typhon to conduct their transit safely through the network of pirate action groups – and advising clients of necessary course adjustments to avoid known trouble hot spots.
“With Typhon’s service, close protection vessels (CPVs) shadow client vessels using its ‘umbrella concept’, which consists of surveillance and, detection and early warning capabilities to identify and assess any likely or suspected threats. Through early detection, Typhon will be able to deter a pirate threat before it becomes a danger.
“The convoys travel in a protected ‘envelope’ which make it extremely difficult for the pirates to enter the ‘Protection Zone’ to launch an attack. Typhon’s policy is always to seek to diffuse and de-escalate any violence.”
In addition the announcement explained how the system operates – detecting potential pirates “by sea (using radar), by air (using satellite) and by land (through an onshore operations center).” If there’s a real threat it goes into action, deploying “armored patrol boats to intercept a potential target, engage direct fire weapons or mount a key defense of the client vessel. The use of force is a last resort and is always reasonable and proportionate using the minimum amount of force necessary,” the bulletin added.
Typhon’s CEO Anthony Sharp commented: “Typhon was created in order address the specific threat from pirates in a number of key geographies. The areas we will protect are too vast for current naval resources to monitor effectively and this will be an even bigger issue when Operation Atlanta comes to an end.
“Our mantra is to combat the problem of maritime crime and piracy using methods that are both effective and proportionate to the threat. With millions paid out in ransoms to pirates and much more money lost by businesses in fuel costs avoiding pirates, it is important that businesses are granted a safer passage with their cargo through dangerous waters. The benefits to business will be substantial.”
Source: Typhon Maritime Security