A.P. Moller-Maersk has hired former soldiers and an armed escort vessel from Tanzania to protect its fleet in the pirate-infested waters off the Horn of Africa, according to an article in Monday’s Copenhagen Post.
Maersk hired the ship to protect the tanker Birgit Maersk through former special forces soldiers working for a Danish security firm called Guardian-Global Business Security.
“The waters east of Africa are a gray zone because developing countries don’t have resources to fight pirates. It’s a temporary solution that a shipper has hired a warship from another country, but there’s no alternative,” Jan Fritz Hansen, vice-president of the Danish Shipowners’ Association, told the Copenhagen Post.
Steffen Jacobsen, technical director at Maersk Tankers, said the company checked first to make sure the move was legal. “That’s why we chose it as an alternative solution to a very critical situation.”
It is not the first time a Danish shipping line has hired military guards to protect its ships on routes off the coast of Africa. Norden, a dry and liquid bulk carrier, previously hired an armed security ship to accompany its vessels in the area, and the company’s senior vice-president, Lars Lundegaard, said he wouldn’t rule out hiring a warship from the Tanzanian navy in the future.
But some Danish military experts fear the hiring of private security forces could be a dangerous development.
“In the short term it could be a good solution for Maersk. But long-term, it’s a dangerous development because it will make poor African countries reliant on private companies’ money to run their militaries,” said Lars Bangert Struwe from the Danish Institute for Military Studies.
Contact Peter T. Leach at email@example.com.