Your opposition may be a little less gay looking than this if you decide to get into Maritime Security work
(UPDATE - 4/20/13) It is looking like more and more guys are getting hired for Maritime Security gigs, what was once a pipe-dream for most guys is quickly becoming a realistic job prospect. As far as I can tell most of the guys getting hired are solid Tier-1/2 guys
I have heard guys talking about Maritime Security being the “next big thing” in Security Contracting for over 15 years now, even before I started working overseas. Five years ago if someone mentioned Maritime Security work to me I would have just chalked up as being another International Security Job Old Wives Tale.
But just over the past year the Maritime Security Job market has started to become a reality. This is mostly due to the massive increase of piracy incidents off the cost of Africa. After years of completely dismissing even the very idea of having armed security professionals aboard ships the maritime shipping consortium is finally waking up.
This is mostly due to the billions of dollars that piracy has cost the maritime industry in a relativity short amount of time. As usual Money and not the safety of their employees has prompted a security policy change within an industry.
So after hundreds (thousands?) of hijackings, attempted hijackings and regular old vanilla robberies on the high seas, we are finally starting to see a few guys working armed gigs on ships.
Who are the Maritime Shipping Companies are Using for On-board Armed Security?
Right now it seems to be a combination of active duty military personnel from whatever country the ship is from and some Security Contractors. Their is some talk of having firearms available to the crew for emergencies but that one seems to be up in the air right now.
I won’t go into Active Military on ships or crew members serving double duty as armed security because that really doesn’t have anything to do with us. What we are interested in is the armed security that is being farmed out.
Training is and will continue to be one of the regular jobs in the Maritime Security industry job market. Especially if western countries start sending (or continue sending?) aid money to the tin-pot governments in Africa so they can train their own maritime security forces.
Old Hand military training contractors like MPRI (Military Professional Resources Inc) have already stepped in and been awarded a contract. I also know through the “Contractor Grapevine” a few other medium sized companies are in the planning stages to start sending guys there for training contracts or to drum up business.
ARMED WORK on SHIPS:
This is the big one, the 90-point albino buck of the Maritime Security industry job market, the one everyone in civilian contracting has been talking about lately (well, talking about with more hope). Maersk, the Big Daddy of the maritime shipping industry already has armed contractors on a few of their boats. And Israeli guards are working on a couple of Italian ships, additionally a Spanish contractor has armed guys on tuna fishing boats that fish off the coast of Kenya.
Over the past year many defense contractors and security companies have been advertising online for Maritime Security jobs. They seem to be just fishing for resumes so they can show them to potential clients. So far I have not heard about anyone being hired for any advertised maritime security job.
What are the chances of you getting hired?
Ahhhh... yes, the big question. Like most guys in the Security Contracting industry you have probably daydreamed about riding the high seas yelling “Avast ye Landlovers” and other cool Letter of Marque shit like that.
Well hold your damn seahorses matey, because right now the Maritime Security industry is so young the few armed maritime security jobs that are out there far outweigh the pool of candidates. And unless you have a 20+ year high speed background in the Special Forces you can forget about a training job.
I know two people that are working in Africa right now in armed security work related to the maritime security field. Both of them were hired via the “contractors bubbas club” – meaning they were hired by a friend who vouched for them.
Oddly, one of them isn’t even ex-military or law enforcement (he was a personal trainer - WTF???), another example of the nepotism that exists within the civilian contractor industry, especially for the “premium jobs”.
So... what’s the word on the future of the maritime security job market? Will I ever be able to get in on this?
Not going to happen for you right now – especially of you are not ex-SF or have a hook-up. You are going to have to give the Maritime Security Job market time to mature before you will be able to apply online with a realistic chance of getting hired.
This is really no different than the way the Security Contracting job market has matured over the years. Back in 2000 when I first started in Security Contracting I got my first gig working in the Middle East through a buddy that vouched for me.
That’s just the way it worked back then, but after Iraq and Afghanistan came along any Joe could throw his resume in the hat with a better than average chance of getting picked up for a high paying security gig overseas.
I suspect that the Maritime Security Job market will be no different if, and that is a big IF, hiring private contractors to provide armed security personnel on ships becomes an industry standard. Will that happen? I honestly don’t know, a dozen factors come into play – everything from the maritime insurance companies to the political situation in countries like Somalia.
My personal opinion? I believe that Maritime Security will always be a relatively thin Job market with the majority of the gigs going to a select few high-speed and well connected guys.
But hey, opinions are like assholes and you never know if a major shipping company just suddenly says; “F-This BS with pirates, lets hire 2000 guys and arm up every ship in our fleet”. Stranger things have happened in the security contracting business so keep your fingers crossed.
How to Make Yourself More Marketable to Potential Maritime Security Employers:
For the optimists out there who believe that Maritime Security will be a bigger job boom than Iraq was here are a few suggestions to help get your resume to the top of the stack: - Get EMT certified Security guys with advanced medical training will be in demand. The same thing happened when Iraq and Afghanistan popped-off, companies were desperate for medics.
- Get some AK and other Foreign Weapons Training Chances are you won’t be using a shiny new Rock River Arms M-4 on an old ass container ship traveling through the HOA, think AK family and the FAL.
- *Get Merchant Mariner Credentials This is basically a license to work on a ship that is over 100 tons (every cargo ship is) and is used as your passport wile in port outside of your home country. If you don’t have one, you can’t work on a ship.
You will also need a STCW-95 (Standards of training and Certification for Watch-keepers), basic safety training called STCW-95 BST and a TWIC (Transportation Worker ID Card) expect to shell out between 1 to 2 grand to take the courses and pay for the apps.
*This applies to Americans only. And whether or not all Maritime Security guys will be required to have the above is not known right now. But having all the licenses, certs and courses for seafarers (even if they are not required) will sure as shit get your resume to the “in” box.
Update: here is the US Cost Guard's MINIMUM GUIDELINES FOR CONTRACTED SECURITY SERVICES IN HIGH RISK WATERS
James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and making Eric Cartman AK-47 jokes even though its already way played out.