Sri Lanka’s southern port of Galle has become a hub in the fight against Somali pirates who threaten international merchant shipping, a report in a new magazine said. An increasing number of vessels are embarking and disembarking armed guards used for on board protection as they sail past Galle, located close to the main East-West shipping route across the Indian Ocean, Samuditha, a new magazine for entrepreneurs, reported. This opened up opportunities for companies providing supplies and services to shipping as well as ex-servicemen who make use of their combat experience to work as private security guards on merchant ships, it said.
Sea marshals and weapons hired from Sri Lanka are supplied by Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited, a security company operating under the Defence Ministry, the magazine quoted Rakna Arakshaka Lanka chief executive MajorGeneral K B Egodawele as saying.
Samuditha magazine is published by Udyogi Yathra in Sinhala. Launched in September, the magazine caters to entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises whose ranks are growing following the end of the 30-yearwar. The magazine said the threat of Somali pirates who hijack ships has createda boom in the business of vessel protection and resulted in heightenedactivity in Galle harbour.
“There has been a huge increase in the employment of sea marshals in the last 6-12 months,” Egodawele told the magazine in an interview. “Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the region to authorise the transit of armed guards through their waters for on board protection of merchant ships and fishing vessels.”
To support the anti-piracy effort, Rakna Arakshaka set up an overseas network of eight land-based and floating armouries in a joint venture with Avant Garde Maritime Services, a private security firm run by ex-servicemen. Private maritime security companies (PMSCs) hired by ship owners to protect their ships are vetted and approved by the Defence Ministry and are required to provide serial numbers of weapons taken aboard and log ammunition expenditure. There are about 50 such companies operating.
Work as sea marshals is a lucrative opportunity for ex-servicemen who get paid about $1,000 a month, said the magazine which also interviewed former naval personnel for the story. The story was part of a special feature in the magazine which focused on the island’s growing maritime sector and entrepreneurs who have made their mark in ship building and ship repair businesses.