October 17, 2008
Blackwater ship ready for antipiracy role
Security firm Blackwater Worldwide says that its "183 foot ship, the McArthur, stands ready to assist the shipping industry as it struggles with the increasing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere."
The McArthur was reconfigured and modified in 2006 and is now a Blackwater Worldwide Maritime Security Support Craft. The vessel was decommissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2003 after nearly 40 years as a research vessel. It was built in 1966 by Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.
Blackwater describes it as a multi-purpose maritime vessel designed to support military and law enforcement training, peacekeeping, and stability operations worldwide. It is fully equipped with a helo deck and can store 4,100 gallons of helo fuel. Blackwater's aviation affiliate can provide the helicopters, pilots, and maintenance required to support escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.
"Billions of dollars of goods move through the Gulf of Aden each year," said Bill Matthews, Executive Vice President of Blackwater Worldwide. "We have been contacted by shipowners who say they need our help in making sure those goods get to their destination safely. The McArthur can help us accomplish that."
Blackwater says that "rather than having armed guards on a cargo vessel, the McArthur's ability to accompany a ship and deploy helicopters to patrol the area provides a safer option for the shipping industry."