For A Price, Security Company Wards Off Pirates

A former British army pilot recently launched a business called Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions. For $30,000, Nick Davis will arrange a team of three private guards to travel on a boat and scare away potential pirates. He has teams now on seven ships in the Gulf of Aden. Davis tells Steve Inskeep that the guards do it all without guns.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

OK. You heard the admiral say that he wants ships to take security detachments onboard. If you're looking for guards like that, Nick Davis may be your man. He's a former British Army pilot. And this past July, he launched a business called Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions. Here's what they do. For $30,000, Davis will arrange a team of three private guards to travel on your boat and scare away potential pirates, without guns. Mr. Davis says he has teams right now on seven ships in the region.

Mr. NICK DAVIS (CEO, Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions): All of our teams are ex-Royal Marines or Special Forces, and they provide a 24/7 supplemental deck security to the existing crew. And our guys with the long-range acoustic device or the magnetic audio device in conjunction with the ship's water cannons, with increased speed, with barbed wire on the back of the vessel, and with other bits and pieces that we carry that are all non-lethal, it builds up to a point where the pirates just - they don't bother. They get within about 500 meters, realize that the security has been taken seriously on that ship, and then they just turn away. And the next ship that's coming along is going to get it, unless they've got security as well.

INSKEEP: It's the same thing as if you lock your door. It may just mean that the burglar goes to the next house down the block.

Mr. DAVIS: Unfortunately, that's all we do. We purely displace the threat to somebody else.

INSKEEP: If I can just understand some of the security measures you just said, what was the acoustic device that you described?

Mr. DAVIS: Yeah, we've got a long-range acoustic device and a magnetic audio device.

INSKEEP: Do they just emit an unbearable sound?

Mr. DAVIS: Absolutely. Between 140 and 160 decibels at 2,000 hertz, effective range of clear communications of over a thousand meters, and almost deafening, certainly too uncomfortable and unbearable at less than 300 meters. And these pieces of equipment are coupled to standard MP3 players that you would play music on.

INSKEEP: So you're fighting the pirates with an iPod?

Mr. DAVIS: Correct.

INSKEEP: If I might, what happens if all of those security measures fail - it must happen sometimes - and you're confronted with the situation of pirates onboard? What are your three-man crews trained to do?

Mr. DAVIS: Well, we've never had - there has never been a successful boarding with a security force onboard a vessel.

INSKEEP: You mean as soon as it becomes apparent that there is a security force onboard, just that is usually enough to deter the pirates.

Mr. DAVIS: Absolutely.

INSKEEP: But I'm curious, if it does get to that, you've got these Special Forces guys, they're trained to kill people. What are they supposed to do if there was a pirate on the deck in front of them?

Mr. DAVIS: They would - I can assure you they would do everything in their power to make sure that that pirate does not get onboard.

INSKEEP: Do they have lethal weapons?

Mr. DAVIS: They don't have lethal weapons. They will have knives because there is going to be the standard knives onboard that you would have in the kitchen galley of a ship. All of the crews will have rope knives on them.

INSKEEP: Someone listening to this is going to inquire why you don't just put a canon on board and blow a pirate out of the water.

Mr. DAVIS: That is really only an option for the coalition forces to do because what you would do is you will end up - if you've got someone onboard that maybe has just come back from Afghanistan or Iraq, sees a pirate coming along, and the pirate waves an AK47 but doesn't fire it, and automatically you just blow them out the water - suddenly, you're the pirate, not...

INSKEEP: Mr. Davis, if I may ask, given all the news of recent days and weeks, how is your business doing?

Mr. DAVIS: Well, as you can imagine, inquiries have gone through the roof. The one thing is, this is going to be a spike of piracy, a worrying spike, because of the amount of attention that it's getting in the world market. And I think that some of the coastal countries that have a high poverty level may well see this and start some copycat tactics elsewhere around the world. And that's of slight concern for me.

INSKEEP: Nick Davis is head of Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions. Thanks for taking the time to talk.

Mr. DAVIS: No problem at all, sir.

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