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Aussie plans anti-pirate mercenaries Print
April 28th 2009

 HE is the Red Adair of the Sydney seas - like the Texan who fought oil-well fires, Captain Brett Devine and his firm have handled some of Australia's largest ship salvage operations.

Now he has the pirates who are terrorising shipping lanes off the Somali coast in his sights.

His plan to protect civilian shipping is to set up a private security service in "pirate alley" manned by ex-military special forces personnel with fast-response vessels and armed helicopters.

In a proposal sent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week, just days before Sunday's attack on the cruise ship MSC Melody, the salvage master and rescue specialist has asked for the Federal Government's backing for his plan.

Capt Devine said paying ransom demands should not be the only option for a safe return of ships and the lives of their crews. He added the cost of stationing warships in the area and the fuel costs of ships taking evasive action - as the MSC Melody did - were exorbitant.

Capt Devine, whose operation is based at Rozelle in Sydney's inner west, said he was building on similar work done for foreign governments in the Asia Pacific.

"We don't  want to be seen as mercenaries or rebels. This is an ethical way of doing things," Mr Devine said yesterday.

"If we get a call from a vessel having problems with pirates, we would send a helicopter down with troops and warn them."

He said that if the pirates continued to attack, their engines would be shot at and disabled and the vessel then towed to Somalia to be handed over to authorities for prosecution.
 
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