The UK's first private navy in almost 200 years has been set up by a group of pioneering businessmen, former marines and retired captains and soldiers to defend shipping off the coast of east Africa from the threat of pirates.
They are frustrated at the inability of the Royal Navy, NATO, the European Union Naval Task Force and other navies to guarantee security for shipping in an area of ocean the size of 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,” Anthony Sharp, chief executive of Typhon, the company behind the venture, told the Times.
Typhon is chaired by Simon Murray a millionaire business man with a colorful past including a spell in the French Foreign Legion as a teenager and walking unsupported to the South Pole aged 63.
Other Typhon directors include Admiral Henry Ulrich, former commander of US Naval Force’s Europe, General Sir Jack Deverell, former commander in chief Allied Forces Northern Europe and Lord Dannatt Britain’s former chief of the general staff.
The navy will include a 10,000 ton mother ship and high speed armored patrol boats and will be led by a former Royal Navy commodore and 240 former marines and other sailors.
The marines will be armed with close quarter weapons such as the M4 carbine and sniper rifles with a range of 2 km.
It will escort its first convoy of oil tankers, bulk carriers and the occasional yacht along the east coast of Africa in late March or early April. They will aim to deter pirates rather than engage in firefights.