Editor's Note: Since publishing this a few "private navy" or "corporate security vessels" has been arrested with crew entering nearby national waters including those of India, a regular participant nation in anti piracy patrols. In the modern world armed vessels other than naval vessels can find logistic support impossible. No matter the threat and the good they may do, coastal nations don't welcome them.
Shades of the East India Company. Britain has launched its first private navy in almost two centuries. Glencore Chief Simon Murray leads a group of businessmen calling themselves "Typhon" in fielding a private seagoing security escort service off of Somalia.
The service has armed vessels - including a 10,000-ton mother ship and high-speed armored patrol boats. The vessels are under the tactical command of a former Royal Navy commodore. He is preparing a private floating security force of approximately 240 former marines and sailors.Operations will start in late March or early April.
According to Anthony Sharp , Chief Executive of Typhon it has been created because the Royal Navy, NATO and the European Union Naval Force lack the vessels to patrol an area of ocean that is as large as North America.. "They can't do the job because they haven't got the budget and deploying a billion-pound warship against six guys [pirates] with $500 of kit is not a very good use of the asset," he said.
Typhon intends to sail under a sovereign flag which will give them the legal right to carry their weaponry into harbor What that flag is we can't determine at this time. Economic support will come from shipping firms signing up for convoy escort service. Indian, Chinese, and Russian flag ships already use private escort /convoy services.
To our mind this is not the return of privateers but rather the return of corporate navies, last seen in association with the Dutch and British East India Companies. This is an interesting concept fraught with potential unforeseen consequences. We agree with Typhon's observation that using modern full sized war ships for the task is uneconomic. But we think we'd rather see regular navies using smaller cheaper craft than the return of corporate navies. If you are familiar with the history of the East India companies you know that along with corporate armies and navies came corporate government in many of the East Indian colonies and settlements. Corporate government can be the most brutal of all. On one island colony with a population of just over 300, 30 men were hanged by the corporate court in a single month. Hanging could be administered for a variety of crimes which sounded an awful lot like simply being insubordinate to your boss. We just don't know if this is really such a good idea. But we do know pirates un-suppressed spread like rats. Rats are bad.