Blackpool man's modern day pirates story

A Blackpool man who has thwarted pirates off the coast of Africa and acted as adviser on a Hollywood blockbuster is set to release a book of his adventures.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 16th October 2017, 5:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 8:38 am
Jordan Wylie who has run security on ships threatened with piracy off the cost of Africa
Jordan Wylie who has run security on ships threatened with piracy off the cost of Africa

Jordan Wylie, who grew up on Grange Park and left school with no GCSEs now runs his own specialist maritime security business.

His experiences of helping keep seamen safe at the height of the Somalian pirates crisis has now resulted in a book from Mirror Books - Citadel - taken from the code name of a safe room on merchant ships where crews could hide out from the pirates.

Jordan said: "I went straight from school into the army at 16 and that was the making of me really. I joined the Kings Royal Hussars which is an armoured regiment and I served in Iraq a couple of times, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

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An image from the cover of the book Citadel by Blackpool-born Jordan Wylie who fought pirates off the coast of Africa

"I left in 2009 after suffering an injury and at the time the trouble with piracy off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden was at its height and people from the military were in high demand. I ended up doing 150 missions near Somalia and West Africa near Nigeria.

"The title of the book Citadel comes from the safe room on the ships. Part of the procedure when attacked by pirates was to have a Citadel , a prepared room deep in the ship where the crew could lock themselves away safely.

"Some of the ships, depending on which country's flag they sailed under, are not allowed to carry weapons. In those cases you deploy razor wire and have fire hoses on the deck to fend off any boarders.

"I ended up on one ship without weapons which was caught by armed pirates and we had no weapons. We retreated to the citadel but the satellite phone was not working down there so we could not call up a naval ship for help.

An image from the cover of the book Citadel by Blackpool-born Jordan Wylie who fought pirates off the coast of Africa

"I eventually made the decision to leave the citadel, which goes against all protocols, and get to a place where I could get a signal on the phone."

Jordan, 33, ended up having to climb up inside the funnel of the ship, using an internal ladder, until he could get a signal and call for rescue. The crisis ended with a naval ship homing in on the stricken merchant vessel.

His experiences as a security expert on the ships led to him being used as a consultant on the film Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks which told the tale of a container ship captain whose ship was taken hostage by Somali pirates on its way to Mombasa in Kenya.

Jordan said he could understand why they did it and had respect for their bravery skimming along far from land on small fast moving boats and using grappling hooks and ropes to climb up the high sided container ships and tankers.

He said: "Having been in Iraq and Afghanistan the incidents on the ships were less worrying. They were, in the main poorly equipped, and being in the middle of the ocean you could see the enemy coming. The key was being vigilant. These are people who have not much to live for. Around 90 per cent were unemployed, 10 per cent earned less than $2 a day.

"18-year-olds could earn £10 to £15m in hostage money. In 2011 there were 1,00 hostages from more than 40 ships."

The piracy began after the Somalian civil war when the country's navy disbanded. Illegal over-fishing by other nations in the country's waters and dumping of illegal waste contributed to a decline in fish and the poor Somalis and Somali warlords took to hostage taking to earn money. The piracy declined after Combined Task Force 150 was established by the United Nations to patrol the area.

Jordan, who has a degree in security risk management and a masters in maritime security. said he was very excited about having his book published on November 2 and was hoping to have a Blackpool launch in the second week of November.

He said: "I went to Grange Park Infants, Layton Primary and Collegiate High and am proud of my Blackpool roots. I just want to impress on people that it doesn't matter where you start in life, it's where you are going. You can change your path anytime with the right attitude.