Blackwater pirate fighting ship sidelined by its own crew


It looks like the McArthur, the 183ft ex-NOAA oceanographic research ship that Blackwater bought and converted for use as a maritime security platform is no longer offering services in the anti-piracy effort.

xelogoLife on board the McArthur was apparently not so good. Blackwater, now re-named Xe, now has three separate harassment claims from crewmembers who sailed aboard the ship on its recent voyage to the Middle East. As Virginian-Pilot reporter Bill Sizemore reports, the plan to use the McArthur as a state-of-the-art anti-piracy platform did not quite pan out as planned.

One former crew member says that on the orders of the captain, he was thrown to the deck and handcuffed in retaliation for speaking to a newspaper reporter. He is suing for false imprisonment, saying he was unlawfully detained by being ‘placed in irons.’

Another crew member, who is black, says that he was subjected to racial epithets from the chief engineer and that when he complained, the captain did nothing about the harassment and retaliated by giving the seaman a poor evaluation.

A third man, the ship’s chief steward, says he was fired after he submitted a written statement to his superiors documenting the hostile work environment and racial harassment aboard the vessel.

Last fall as the piracy crisis debuted, Blackwater widely advertised that the McArthur was available to provide convoy escort services and protection for ships transiting high risk areas.  Equipped with two Little Bird helicopters, several RHIBs, and a fully armed security team, it was viewed by many as an ideal solution and one that was poised to make some big bucks.


Legal papers reveal a less than ideal scenario on board however.  It appears the ship did not perform the role she was intended to in the Middle East.  As for the official word from the company, Sizemore writes:

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell did not comment direct on the litigation, but she said one of the employees was terminated for cause. Regarding the discrimination suit, she told Virginian-Pilot the company “does not condone and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and takes allegations to the contrary very seriously.” But she also disclosed that the company is no longer doing counter-piracy work.

With the recent Maritime Security Directive issued by the Coast Guard this week, you have to wonder if Xe will be missing out on something big.  The Maritime will be interested to see where the McArthur ends up next.  We’ll be watching closely.

2 Comment

  1. Interesting story, I would guess that it was not a pleasant voyage. Very good site, good job.

  2. Lenny says: Reply

     I think Black Water / Xi had a good idea with the vessels and useing them for that purpose, but they made bad choices on who they hired to run the vessel and some of he crew. for example Captain Bligh leadership is not leadership and a crewman that talks to the press about the vessels mission or anything to do with the vessel with out authorization. puts a the crew, the client and the company safety at risk. . At least from what I was told. With the right people what I mean is people they can trust and people that are motivated. they can do better than have a Captain Bligh running things. I was told by a former crewman that when some of the customers came on board to veiw the vessel they were not very impressed by the crew and Captain. He over heard a state ment made by a potential customer concerning the perfessional attitudes of some of the officers and crew was lacking. . So being a seaman and having been a 1600 ton Captain also having some military and law enforcement/security back ground. I think I know what was going on. Black Water or now Xi was in the dark about much . It seems there was alot the Captain did not let the company know and in fact out right hid much from them. So from the start their plans for that vessel were underminded by the very people they hired ,mainly the Captain. First impressions are lasting. A highly perfessional company like Xi needs people that show that perfessionalism. After all Xi is in the security and war bussiness. So customers want perfessionals not half ass types that maybe can do the Job. Xi can do better than that. I have met several perfessionals that work for them and it is a good organization that has gotten bad press. Alot of that has to do with high profile. Better to be low profile in a bussiness like that and have perfessional people that not only have a License but have exsperience and some maturity. Captain Bligh mentallity is not acceptable. Leadership , knowledge and exsperience is what was lacking in that Captain. Just because you have a Captains License does not mean you are a true Captain. A license only proves ypu passed the Coast Guard exam with at least the minimum requirements, Nothing more.

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