Friday, December 05, 2008

We should all walk a bit sheepishly for awhile ...

Doing the job we won't do.
Pirates beware -- Blackwater Worldwide may be looking for you, and soon. That prospect certainly would shiver Bartholomew Roberts, better known as "Black Bart," down to his timbers if the infamous pirate hadn't been dead for the past 285 years.

The North Carolina-based security firm, which came under fire from Congress over a shooting incident in Baghdad last year that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, announced in October that its 183-foot ship, the McArthur, stands ready to assist the shipping industry as it struggles with the increasing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere.

"Billions of dollars of goods move through the Gulf of Aden each year," said Bill Mathews, Blackwater's executive vice president. "We have been contacted by ship owners who say they need our help in making sure those goods get to their destination safely. The McArthur can help us accomplish that."

The refurbished ship has what the company has described as state-of-the-art navigation systems, full Global Maritime Distress and Safety System communications, SEATEL broadband satellite communications, dedicated command and control battlefield air support, helicopter decks, a hospital, multiple support vessel capabilities, and a crew of 45 highly trained personnel.

Formerly a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel, the McArthur was put in service in 1966 and decommissioned in 2003. Reconfigured and modified in 2006, the ship is now considered a Blackwater Worldwide maritime security support craft. Blackwater´s aviation affiliate can provide the helicopters, pilots and maintenance required to support escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.

Company spokesmen said the dramatic increase of pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden had led to parallel cost increases for the shipping industry, resulting in 10-fold insurance increases this year alone. They said that with the added danger pay offered to crews willing to make the journey, pirate ransom demands that reach into the millions, and lengthy negotiations for hijacked ships, if left unaddressed the cost of the piracy boom to the shipping industry -- and consumers buying their goods -- will only increase.

"Some shippers have taken the step of arming their crews, or hiring private security to ride on board cargo ships," the company said. "Rather than having armed guards on a cargo vessel, the McArthur´s ability to accompany a ship and deploy helicopters to patrol the area provides a safer option for the shipping industry.

The McArthur is a multipurpose maritime vessel designed to support military and law enforcement training, peacekeeping, and stability operations worldwide.
Arrggggghhh - give 'em a letter of marque! As always, stop by Eagle1 for your pirate update. He was pirate before pirate was cool.

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