Security firm Blackwater reportedly meeting with ship owners
Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide is meeting with shipping and insurance companies in London this week to discuss possible services it can provide to protect ships from pirates, the Associated Press reports.
The AP quoted a company spokeswoman as saying at least 70 companies have contacted Blackwater about protection services.
In October, Blackwater published a press release saying it had an 183-foot ship, the McArthur, “ready to assist the shipping industry as it struggles with the increasing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere.”
“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,” said Bill Matthews, a company executive vice president at that time.
Blackwater noted that some shippers have taken the step of arming their crews, or hiring private security to ride onboard cargo ships. “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 company said.
Blackwater Worldwide is the largest of the U.S. State Department’s three private security contractors, and had a substantial role in the Iraq War. However, its license to operate in Iraq was revoked by the Iraqi government on Sept. 17, 2007, following a contentious incident in which 17 Iraqis were killed.