New association for maritime security industry formed

Published 3 March 2011

Maritime security consultant Peter Cook recently announced the formation of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI); SAMI will help establish rules and regulations in the fledgling maritime security industry; the maritime security industry has grown rapidly in recent years, but has suffered from lack of regulation and rapid expansion; the industry’s reputation has been tarnished with incidents of hired security firms abandoning ships when pirates attack leading to long periods of captivity for the ship’s crew; to prevent these incidents from occurring and to uphold the reputation of the industry, SAMI will vet maritime security companies, establish standards, and ensure that its members comply with established standards

The deluge of pirate attacks in recent years has created a fledgling maritime security industry that is rapidly growing to accommodate the security needs of shipping firms around the world.

This new industry is currently unregulated, but long time maritime security consultant Peter Cook hopes to change that. Cook recently announced the formation of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) to help establish rules and regulations.

Currently more than 90 percent of world’s goods travel by sea and cargo ships often carry lucrative cargo like oil, coal, or commercial goods, making them ideal targets for pirates. In 2010 alone there were a total of 445 piracy attacks, an 8.5 percent increase over 2009.

As piracy and hijackings became more prevalent over the past decade, security entrepreneurs quickly flooded the market seeing it as the “new Iraq.” According to SAMI this presented several problems as inexperienced maritime security companies began crowding the market, shipping firms were unable to discern which companies were reliable.

As evidence of a worst case scenario, SAMI points to an incident in November 2008 when a security firm’s three man team hired to protect the MV Biscaglia decided to abandon ship and leap overboard when pirates attacked. As a result, the pirates boarded the ship unimpeded and held the firm’s clients, the crew of the MV Biscaglia, for nearly three months.

Incidents like this tarnished the reputation of the maritime security industry and even affected the reputation of more established security firms.

<>To prevent these incidents from occurring and to uphold the reputation of the industry, Cook decided to launch SAMI.


In a statement, SAMI wrote that its core mission is “to effectively vet maritime security companies and the operatives wishing to join SAMI, and then monitor compliance with SAMI standards.” Failure to comply with these standards will result in the expulsion of the firm and its operatives.

SAMI has already “[formulated] a directory of accredited maritime security companies that shipping concerns [can] consult before engaging a security sub-contractor.” It also aims to “represent the reputable maritime security companies comprising of the service providers (embarked security teams, independent maritime security consultants, maritime security training establishments and personnel agencies) and the equipment, technology and hardware providers.”

In addition, SAMI will also “represent (and look after) the interests of the individual maritime security operatives, providing them with guidance and advice on which firms are accredited and how best to plan a career within this new industry.”

The Association’s founder Peter Cook was an officer in the British Royal Marines for twenty-four years and is also the chairman of the Maritime Security Review. Cook will be assisted by Steven Jones, a former navigation officer in the U.K. Merchant Navy.