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Brits plan private navy to fight pirates


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leading British insurer is reported to be planning the world's first private navy to combat Somali pirates raking in an estimated $150 million a year in ransoms from shipping companies.

At the same time, on the other side of Africa, the security market in oil-rich, piracy plagued Nigeria, which has long been dominated by the British, is being shaken up after three French seamen were kidnapped Sept. 21.

The Independent newspaper of London says that the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group, which insures 14 percent of the world's commercial shipping, seeks to set up a fleet of 20 private vessels specifically to protect ships in the Gulf of Aden region where the Somali pirates operate. Start-up costs are estimated at around $15 million.

"We're looking at setting up a private navy to escort vessels through the danger zones," said Sean Woollerson, a senior JLT partner.

"We'd have armed personnel with fast boats escorting ships and make it very clear to any Somali vessels in the vicinity they they're entering a protected area," he told The Independent.
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