HEREFORD might seem an usual place for a maritime security company, but for a group of businessmen it was the perfect place.

Ambrey works to keep ships safe in vulnerable parts of the seas, mainly off the coast of Somalia and Nigeria.

But today the company found itself in the news after one of its employees was killed in a drone strike on a ship they were aboard.


Iran is suspected of being behind the attack on the MV Mercer Street off the coast of Oman.

Ambrey, based at Rotherwas, has been growing at a fast rate since being formed in 2010 by three businessmen with Herefordshire at heart.

The firm has not yet commented on the attack, but speaking in 2019, group managing director John Thompson, who was born in the county, said the company had 80 staff in Hereford, and more than 750 deployed staff operating in up to 40 countries at any one time.

“We basically protect ships from getting hijacked. The two main areas we focus on are Somalia in the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Nigeria in west Africa,” he said at the time.

“We work for some big names that people will have heard of like Maersk, who are moving things like oil and containers around the world.

“In Nigeria we have an armed patrol boat alongside the vessel and most of our efforts go into all the bits around that, the intelligence.”

Ambrey is now the largest private maritime security company in the world and supports about 500 ships a month, including armed and unarmed guards on vessels.

For the founders, two of whom were still involved in 2019, Herefordshire is a “special place” and they wouldn’t consider being located elsewhere.

“We could be based in Timbuktu as long as we’ve got emails and phones,” Mr Thompson said.

“We have had to grow and it’s not been easy to keep up. We knew from 2011 and 2012 that the market would consolidate, and we’ve had to grow.

Ambrey was included in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 in 2014 at number eight with an annual average growth of 175 per cent.