Small Wars Journal

Millionaire’s Private Navy Ready to Take on Somali Pirates

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 9:14pm

Millionaire’s Private Navy Ready to Take on Somali Pirates - Mike Schuler at gCaptain.

A new British private navy will soon begin plying the Indian Ocean to help support the fight against Somali pirates.

The UK’s Sunday Times reported yesterday that the new navy, founded by companies led by the commodity giant Glencore International Plc (GLEN), will protect its first convoy of oil tankers and bulk carriers from Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean in late March or April, according to their interview with Glencore Chairman, Simon Murray...


Scott Kinner

Wed, 05/15/2013 - 6:47pm

In reply to by JasonT


I have to agree. When it comes to IW - asymmetric activities and indirect methods - we spend a lot of time in circular discussions within the same, relatively small, group of cottage industry experts, academics, and those particular military officers that care or have skin in the game.

And I belong to that group - so full disclosure.

One of my pet peeves is that we keep approaching every problem in a reductionist manner, throwing specialists at it, when what we need are generalists who can see the forest.

We should be broadening our aperture by going out to the world at large - industry - people who are actually losing money to piracy, for example. Or oil companies in Nigeria. People (right or wrong on the issue) who are being forced to both balance risk against the bottom line and come up with ways to mitigate that risk.

If we focus inwards on think tanks, policy wonks, etc., we are hardly creating the creative and disruptive thinkers we spend time writing about. We instead create a group think with well defined positions on well worn paths to tired problem sets.

A similar example is data mining. The commercial world no longer spends money on sensors - a waste of money. They devote their energy to getting to the data that already exists. Traffic on Google Maps is pulled from velocity and position reports of cell phones using Android - not on expensive set of sensors emplaced on highways. But even the latest and greatest discussion out of the intelligence community still spends time talking about creating and deploying more sensors.

To wrap up - I fully concur...there are millions of people actually dealing with the problems - today - that we only hypothesize about. They are worth examining - in both what they do correctly, and what they do incorrectly.


Fri, 05/10/2013 - 9:32am

In reply to by Arnold Hammari


Given Simon Murray's own intense an extraordinary experience with the French Foreign Legion and his Chairmanship of what is arguably the most significant commodity trading entity on the planet, I don't think you will find Mr Murray requiring anyone to rescue his mission.

Glencore has become a global commodity giant through an entrepreneurial spirit, simplicity in implementation and execution, the tenacity to trade in and with challenging outlying nations and their governments. Given the amount of trade Glencore sends through these waters, one could argue that this AO is also Glencore's backyard.

I would put money on Mr Murray's investment succeeding ahead of almost any government entity. It would also be surprising if the author of the article had full knowledge of all the instruments and human resources that will be on hand.

Its surprising that the SWJ community hasn't looked at people like Simon Murray for thinking on dealing with complex, asymmetric environments. No doubt he would have a thoughtful and provocative perspective on the debate over modern COIN as is taking place now. His book Legionnaire is a must read.

Arnold Hammari

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 5:32am

This seems like a bad idea. Demand for this type of service has fallen as pirate attacks have decreased dramatically. A recent article quoted a UN official saying there has been no successful attack in over a year ( However, they may resume once EU naval forces depart the region.

My main concern is that the force described in this article does not seem sufficient for the mission. Many pirates were operating in a similar configuration with a mother ship and fast attack boats but were better financed due to their many ransom payments and experienced in their missions. It seems that the author of this concept is making an assumption that British sailors are inherently better and should have no problems defeating an equal sized force. Even with advanced intel, communications, and weapons it will be hard to defeat a force that is battle hardened in its own backyard and has greater motivation to fight. In the end I fear this new anti-piracy company is going to need rescue or ransom.