The worrying rise in armed guard services for yacht and superyacht owners fearful of piracy


Earlier this week I received a press release from a new organisation creepily calling itself the Merchant Maritime Warfare Centre.

The blurb says that this ‘a UK based, non-profit counter-piracy organisation’ which is running courses ‘designed to enable private security personnel from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply their skills to counter-piracy aboard merchant vessels’.

The UK base, the non-profit making company: it all sounds so respectable, even vaguely altruistic.

Recently we’ve been contacted by several ex-services people claiming to be experts in piracy and offering similar services. I’m highly dubious about their relevant expertise.

They may know all about bearing arms but that doesn’t make them maritime experts or personally knowledgeable about the waters off the Horn of Africa or Indian Ocean area they are targeting for business.

Anyway, the idea of yachts shipping aboard armed guards is chilling. I know it’s happening on superyachts but if I were one of those crews I’d think that was a dangerously cavalier sort of insurance.

It’s different for cruising yacht crews freely choosing this route over other options, but superyacht crews do this part of a voyage on delivery. Their owners could allow their boats to return to the Med via a longer route if they were concerned about the best protection for their employees.

Put it this way: how many owners would choose to take this route, even with armed guards, if they and their families had to be on board? Not many I bet.

So I think that paying for an advantage in a possible gunfight, which is what this is about, is something yacht skippers should reject outright.

Re ordinary cruising yachts, I posted a while ago about guns on board – click here. Do feel free to air your views here or add to those on that posting.