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January 8, 2010

Yemen Navy rents out antipiracy services

The next time you read a report on the Yemen Navy disrupting a Somali pirate attack, it could just be that's there's a little more to the story than meets the eye.

The Yemen military, it seems, is available for hire to protect vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden. Its franchisee is U.K. based Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT). Among companies that have used its services is Stolt Tankers.

"We have worked closely with Gulf of Aden Group Transits Ltd. and Lotus Projects for over a year now to arrange safe transit of Stolt Tankers ships through the Gulf of Aden," says Mark Martecchini, Managing Director Shipowning, Stolt Tankers BV in a statement on the GoAGT web site.

"GoAGT and Lotus have coordinated protective services with Yemeni military forces, both escort patrol boats and security personnel aboard ship, on 40 ship transits. We are pleased with the services provided. They show flexibility in working with us on uncertain ship schedules. Security personnel aboard ship have handled themselves professionally. Most importantly, our ship staff are always happy to see these escort boats or security personnel -- their fears in this turbulent region are markedly reduced when they come on the scene."

Lotus Projects is GoAGT's Yemeni associate. It describes itself as being "established in the early months of 1999 as a result of the increase in demand in various sectors of the economy for the type of services the company provides." It adds that it was established "based on the demand of various official bodies for professional intermediaries to act between government bodies and private or public entities overseas" and says it has "a close relationship with most enterprises and especially with government bodies in the Republic of Yemen."

GoAGT recommends its armed escort services for vessels transiting below 14 knots, or with a low freeboard, or unaccustomed to the Gulf of Aden, transporting hazardous cargo, or simply looking for safe and professional armed protection

All armed services are available for vessels transiting in either direction between Nishtun and Hodeidah.

Armed Vessel Escort

GoAGT will supply the customer's vessel with a dedicated escort by what it describes as a "heavily armored 37.5 meter Yemen Navy Austal patrol boat" transiting 500 m from the escorted vessel throughout the entire journey.

Prices for the service range from $45,000 to $55,000 based on a three day transit.

Armed Security Team

For $35,000 for a three day transit, GoAGT will supply an armed team of six serving Yemen military or coastguard personnel to embark on and protect a vessel between the GoAGT transit coordinates.

It says the teams have "extensive experience in dealing with Somali pirates" and "follow rules of engagement as directed by the Yemen military, who will also provide immediate assistance in the event of an incident." Each armed team has at least one English-speaking member, and will also be able, should an attempted attack take place, to communicate with the pirates in local language via loud hailer devices.


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