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A new state-of-the-art global anti-piracy centre has been unveiled today ahead of a major conference aimed at breaking up the "business model'' used by pirates in Somalia.
The intelligence hub has been set up by analysts Dryad Maritime in Portsmouth, Hampshire, to manage an international response to the threat of pirates which is costing shipping companies millions of pounds each year.
The centre is manned round-the-clock by a team of ex-Royal Navy warfare specialists and intelligence experts.
A Dryad Maritime spokeswoman explained:
"Home to some impressive, state-of-the-art technology, the centre is pivotal in monitoring and analysing the movements, assaults and trends of pirate action groups around the world.
"To seafarers, the centre is a lifeline. It tells them where the pirates are, where they are headed and what they look like.
"When too close for comfort, the centre warns ships and they are diverted to safer waters."
Karen Jacques, chief operating officer at Dryad Maritime, said:
"We expect the threat from piracy to continue, we are investing heavily in infrastructure and technology to give our clients an outsourced operations centre that rivals any naval force.
"Utilising analysis-led maritime intelligence can save on average three to four days for a vessel in transit with related savings to charterers and ship-owners on bunkers, hire and the employment of physical security teams amounting to around 90,000 US dollars to 220,000 US dollars per transit."
The opening of the centre comes just a week before the London Somali Conference, hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Senior representatives from more than 40 governments and international organisations will attend the event, starting on February 23, which aims to develop a new approach to tackle the threat of piracy.
Dryad Maritime is a specialist maritime intelligence company employed by shipping firms to identify threats from piracy, terrorism and other criminal activity and to provide practical advice on how to avoid these.