Much of the world’s economy depends on the security of certain maritime shipping lanes through which passes an enormous amount of commodities, goods and raw materials. The increased level of attacks and kidnappings by pirates, who predominantly operate in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca, has resulted in the increased demand for the need to provide armed or unarmed protection for various types of vessels both in port and at sea.

Over recent years there has been a significant increase in the level of attacks and in turn the ransoms have also escalated from an average of $150,000 per ship in 2005 to a staggering figure of $5,400,000 per ship in 2010.

Ship Security role

Usually operating within a 3 or 4-man team, you will be tasked with providing protection (armed or unarmed) either on board the actual vessel that is being protected or operating from an escort vessel. A large number of my CV customers perform security tasks on board vessels that are transiting from Galle, Sri Lanka to Muscat (Oman), Salalah (Oman), Yemen or Djibouti. Some of my other customers have operated on supply vessels, which are transiting to and from other vessels such as Ocean Rig Drill Ships. Other contracts have included providing security on board Cable Laying Ships in the Indian Ocean and armed protection of Sub Oil Rigs located off the west coast of Africa.

Part of the Ship Security role is the initial ‘hardening’ of the vessel with the aim of making it a less appealing target to the pirates. Additional duties include training the crew in the procedures to take in the event of an attack.

Requisite Skills for Ship Security personnel

In my opinion it is your mindset that is as important as your tactical skills. You MUST be able to remain focused during prolonged shift patterns, be willing to live in uncomfortable surroundings, have excellent communication skills, be able to get on with all types of people, be adaptable, be a team player, be disciplined and be prepared to be away from home for 2/3 months at a time.

You will need to undertake the requisite training (please see training tab on home page) and have an ENG 1 medical certificate, along with up-to-date inoculations including Yellow Fever (most important).

A military background is essential, although you certainly do not need to be a former Royal Marine Commando/Ex-Royal Navy in order to gain employment.

Future Prospects within the Maritime Security Industry

In my opinion the demand for the services of maritime security teams, in both armed and unarmed roles, will continue to remain strong.

Through the number of updates that I carry out to CVs, it is clear to me that the industry provides plenty of opportunities.


The Close Protection industry is divided in two specific areas, which in turn can be subdivided to various roles and duties.

The sectors are ‘non-hostile environment’ such as the UK market and ‘hostile environment’ such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Those operating in the hostile environment sector are generally referred to as PSD (Personal Security Detail) Operators rather than Close Protection Officers.

People tend to find the sector that suits their skill set and it is rare for personnel to make the transition between the two defined industries, although I know many guys who rotate between PSD and Marsec (Maritime Security).

Which sector should I select?

Without wishing to state the obvious, if you are ex-military personnel then you could select both options. If you are non-military (with a few exceptions) then the UK sector/non-hostile would be the only real choice. The few exceptions I have found, having written hundreds of CVs, have generally been personnel coming from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

If you gained experience within operational theatres such as Iraq or Afghanistan then this will make you a more attractive candidate to security companies who are providing services within the hostile environment sector. If you come from an Infantry background then again this would be an advantage. However, I have assisted dozens of ex-military personnel who had not previously served in Iraq or Afghanistan and did not come from an Infantry background, so this is certainly not set in stone.

Generally speaking PSD operators rotate through the various duties such as Personal Protection Officer, Driver, Vehicle Commander, Security Advance Team and Residential Security Team. Therefore, the PSD role requires an individual who is adaptable, multi-skilled and flexible.

Given the amount of time spent with the client/principal it is essential that you are able to communicate articulately and that you have a professional bearing.

What training do I need?

It is essential that you select a course that is relevant to the sector you are entering. Please select the Training tab on the Home Page for more details.

Do I need a security licence?

You will need a Close Protection frontline licence to operate in the UK, which is issued by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). You will need to gain a relevant qualification, which will be issued upon your successful completion of the CP training, along with a first aid certificate. The SIA will instigate a CRB check and will process your application. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to have a SIA licence for working overseas, the tide has turned and companies are now asking for this as a prerequisite for employment.

Are there many Close Protection jobs available in the UK sector?

There are many Close Protection Officers who gain regular tasks in the UK. The successful individuals are those who are flexible in the type of role that they will undertake. The spectrum of roles include Event Security, Asset Protection, Media Protection, Celebrity Protection, Residential Security Team (RST) and Executive Protection.

There is the ‘summer season’ which provides more opportunities such as providing protection for royal families from the middle-east who come to London to escape their hot summer. During this period there are also a number of music festivals and fashion shows, which again can help build the portfolio of assignments under taken by the Close Protection Officer.

The key to being successful is to be flexible and adopt a proactive approach to finding work.

Are there many PSD jobs available?

There are certainly PSD jobs available and whilst these tend to be focused in Iraq and Afghanistan there are other global locations where personnel are providing armed protection to clients who are operating in arduous and hostile regions, including Africa.
Clients include Oil & Gas companies, Telecom companies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The sheer volume of updates that I carry out on the CVs, which I originally produced, is a great indication that even when contracts finish there are other contracts around the corner. Another key factor is that despite the level of competition, I have found that many PSD Operators have gained steady promotion to 2ic and TL positions. Likewise, I have assisted personnel in gaining promotion to Security Management roles, which has been achieved through demonstrating the value that they can bring to the table.

In recent years there has been increased levels of Local Nationals (LN’s) forming part of the armed security teams and their presence has reduced the amount of expats that are operating in some regions. However, there are plenty of opportunities out there at each level of responsibility, from Team Member through to Country Manager.

Future Prospects within the Hostile Environment sector

In my opinion the market will increase over the coming years, which in part will be due to the following key points:-

  1. Oil/Gas and Mineral exploration taking place in countries that have a wealth of natural resources but the lack of security expertise to provide the requisite protection for employees and assets.
  2. NGO’s such as humanitarian organisations reconsidering their security plans to include the provision of armed protection for their staff/volunteers who are conducting their duties in countries which were originally deemed as low-risk but have now been identified as a greater threat.
  3. Military withdrawal/Post-Conflict countries that results in leaving a security void that could be filled through the services of Private Security Companies (PSC’s).

Future Prospects within the UK sector of the Close Protection industry

If there is one word to describe the UK sector of the Close Protection industry it would be ‘consistent’. The market has remained stable over the years and in my opinion this will continue across each of the various roles that are found under the Close Protection umbrella.