FORMER sailors from the Irish Naval Service are being hired to combat pirates on international shipping routes.
The Irish are being targeted by a maritime security firm, GoAGT, because of their skills and training.
And some are already holding down key posts in the ongoing war on the ocean waves.
GoAGT, which has an operational headquarters in Malta, has 19 Irishmen currently on its books and the majority of them are from the Naval Service.
"We have a strong history of employing ex-Irish Navy personnel," a spokesman said.
"They have good experience in maritime security operations and this can be put to good use in providing security on board commercial vessels."
Fourteen of the Irish are deployed with comrades in teams of three, co-ordinating security on ships that are travelling through pirate-infested waters.
Two others are based at the company's base in Malta, while the remaining three are located at the training centre in Galle in Sri Lanka.
Chief maritime security instructor is Damian McCormack, a retired Naval officer with 22 years' experience, particularly in diving and boarding operations.
He is responsible for training the recruits.
The Irish operate alongside recruits from the British Royal Marines, other British army regiments, the Estonian army and Filipino marines.
The company employs over 300 personnel and claims to have protected more than 38,000 seafarers since it began operations five years ago.
Chief executive Nick Davis said: "It is imperative that vessels have incredible crews, well trained in radar and visual lookout, 24 hours a day in high-risk regions."
Recently, two US citizens were kidnapped by pirates who attacked a supply vessel off the Nigerian coast.
And in a separate incident, a Nigerian joint task force security boat was attacked and all the personnel on board were killed.
If suspected pirate boats are spotted speeding towards their vessel, the security teams seek permission to arm themselves and can then fire warning shots.
"This usually dissuades the pirates and they move off again," a spokesman said.