Thu September 13, 2012 12:00am
ARE you tired of your day job? Sick of the desk? Looking for adventure? How would you like to go to sea to fight pirates?
All you need is some weapons training (preferably with a .50 calibre heavy machine gun), and experience in the Special Forces and you could earn around $50,000 a trip. Oh, and you’ll need the balls to travel through pirate-infested waters and defend cargo ships against Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. According to Professor Sarah Percy, an expert on mercenaries and piracy, Australian ‘soldiers of fortune’ – generally with a military background - are already joining up to fight the Somalian pirates who attack hundreds of boats each year and take hundreds of people hostage. Prof Percy, from the University of WA’s political science and international relations department, said Australians are highly valued employees because of their training and because they work well with UK and US guards. She said marine security was the next big thing as demand for mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan fades, but she warned the shipping industry was the “dodgiest industry” with a history of treating employees badly. So maybe the desk job isn’t so bad after all. While Prof Percy said an Australian looking for this sort of private security work should probably start passing CVs around the private military companies, or just head to London and start spreading the word, some operations do advertise. Protection Vessels International Ltd. has hired about 1000 former British Royal Marines to protect ships from piracy. Managing Director Dom Mee told Bloomberg that armed guards were now an “effective solution”. “The pirates will back off and wait to find a vessel that isn’t armed. For the vessels that are unable to protect themselves, the violence will be quite intense,” he said. A report released by the Lowy Institute yesterday found the “private counter-piracy boom” was “creating fresh problems”. It’s a violent situation and the legal context is murky. While some companies are professional and reputable, there are also rogue operators and individual mercenaries creating all sorts of trouble. For example, Italian Marines are awaiting trial for murder after they killed two fishermen they suspected of piracy. In Pirates and Privateers, author James Brown says piracy is getting worse and authorities are failing to control it, so private operators have stepped into the breach. He warned some of them act as “seaborne vigilantes” who could even be defined as pirates themselves. It’s a deadly business with fatalities on both sides, a possibility of being kidnapped and killed or ransomed, and probably deadly dull between pirate attacks. So what are you waiting for?
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