U.S. Company Hired to Thwart Piracy

Sunday, November 27, 2005
Somalia's government signed a deal with a US maritime security firm to fight rampant piracy in the waters off its unpatrolled coast, according to a report in the Taipei Times. Waters off the coast of Somalia are considered among the most dangerous in the world.

Pirates firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns earlier this month tried to board a US-owned cruise liner about 160km off the Somali coast.

New York-based Topcat Marine Security Inc signed a deal worth more than $50 million with the Somali Transitional Federal Government in Nairobi to escort ships plying Somali waters.

Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi, who witnessed the deal, said his government recognized the damage caused by pirates and hoped Topcat would help end the piracy menace.

Peter Casini, Topcat's head of research and development, said once in operation his company would target a mother ship used by the pirates to launch attacks on passing vessels, according to the report.

"We will end the piracy very quickly, there is no question about that," Casini told reporters. "There is a ship that is launching small ships 75 to 100 miles [120km to 160km] from the shore, our goal is to take the mother ship."

Gedi in the past has appealed for foreign navies to send gunboats to battle the pirates.

"This agreement will defend Somalia's territorial waters, defeat the pirates and put an end to the illegal fishing and poaching of our precious natural marine resources," Gedi told reporters.

"With this maritime program in place, we are confident that that Somalia's territorial waters will again be safe for international shipping [and] legalized fishing, to the benefit of the people of Somalia," he said.

Under the first phase of the contract, TopCat will train Somali coast guards and special forces to monitor the anarchic nation's 3,700km coast.

It will also help create five coastal security bases, provide Somali authorities with advanced communications equipment, high-speed patrol boats, ground vehicles and helicopters, officials said.

(Source: Taipei Times)

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