Garrie swaps DJ-ing for tracking high sea pirates
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 January 2011
THE word 'pirate' tends to conjure up mental images of a swashbuckling Errol Flynn as Captain Blood or a camp Johnny Depp in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow.
But in reality, modern day pirates are nefarious, dangerous people – and one former Weston schoolboy has been charged with tackling them on a daily basis.
In fact, former nightclub DJ and Priory pupil Garrie Lenihan is playing a key role in stamping out piracy in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes off the coast of war-torn Somalia.
More than 20,000 vessels travel through the Gulf of Aden each year, linking the markets of Europe and North American with China and the Far East.
This makes the area a magnet for illegal freight and would-be hijackers, and it is Garrie’s job – as advisor on counter-piracy efforts in the region – to ensure legitimate traders can use the area safely.
Garrie, or Chief Petty Officer Lenihan, to give him his formal title with the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) organisation, says the problem area has no quick-fix.
The 44-year-old said: “We can help deter and disrupt attacks, but we have over 1.5million miles of water to cover and cannot be everywhere at once.
“The problem is down to the fact there hasn’t been a functioning government in Somalia for 10years.”
Garrie’s current position is the culmination of a 26-year Navy career – albeit with a brief sabbatical DJ-ing back in Weston, notably at Stars nightclub – which has taken him to the four corners of the earth.
Prior to his current station in Bahrain, Garrie has served in places like Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.
He said: “I count myself particularly lucky to have seen the extremes of both hemispheres, from the remote whaling stations and glaciers in the Falkland Islands to witnessing the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle.”
But it’s his current role which is earning him praise from senior officers.
UKMCC commander, Commodore Tim Fraser, said: “Piracy is a problem for the UK because as an island nation, our prosperity and security is based on freedom of the seas.
“This is an international problem, which requires an international solution. CPO Lenihan plays a key role in coordinating the UK’s contribution to that response.”