A MAJOR New Forest maritime security firm which protects ships from pirates has ceased trading, leaving dozens of its staff stranded around the globe.

Lymington-based Gulf of Aden Group Transits (GoAGT) went bust earlier this week after a meeting between firm bosses and its creditors.

It has been reported that the company allegedly owes millions of pounds in unpaid salaries.

The company, which provides security personnel to locations around the world, employs about 230 ex-military and naval personnel.

Staff had recently been deployed to locations including the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and South Africa, and they were left needing to find their own way home before other companies stepped in to help.

Fellow maritime security firm Sea Marshals is one of the companies which has stepped in to help out staff stranded around some of the globe's most dangerous oceans.

Sea Marshals' operations manager Steve Collins said: “We were asked by the major creditor if we could step in and assist, as obviously those men have been left with no way to come home.

“We have taken responsibility for those on board vessels.

“And we have offered work to those on board the floating armouries in the Gulf and Red Sea, as other companies have.

“Nobody will be abandoned.”

GoAGT had escorted up to 50 ships and tankers through some of the world's most perilous seas, including off the coast of Somalia.

The company was founded in 2008 by former British Army pilot Nick Davis.