Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shippers resist arming seamen against pirates

From the Stupid File:
LONDON - The piracy-plagued shipping industry is resisting calls to deploy armed guards on cargo ships, fearing it will not stop pirate attacks and could make shipping lanes off Somalia's coast even more dangerous.

Since the April 8 attack on the U.S.-flagged ship Maersk Alabama, Vice Adm. William Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and several private security specialists have suggested arming crews or hiring private security firms to bolster ship defenses.

With Somali pirates seemingly undeterred by the deaths or arrests of several of their members in recent days, some shipping companies "are definitely considering" putting armed guards aboard, said Andrew Linington, head of communications at the seafarers union Nautilus in London.

But Simon Bennett, secretary of the International Chamber of Shipping, told The Washington Times that the "clear consensus view within the shipping industry is that it is not appropriate for the seafarers to be armed, simply because we believe that this will escalate the situation. The only people that should be equipped with arms are the military professionals that are operating in the region." [emphasis added]

Even the professionals have been slow, in some cases, to take firm action against the pirates, whose attacks have continued unabated since U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed three Somali pirates and freed Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips on April 12. The only surviving pirate from the incident was being flown to New York for a court appearance scheduled for Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

A seven-hour chase Sunday by a U.S. and Canadian warship helped thwart an attack on a Norwegian oil tanker, but the Canadians released the seven pirates they captured. [emphasis added]

"Canada's mandate is not to normally take detainees in this mission," Michael McWhinnie, a spokesman for the Canadian ship Winnipeg, told the AP. ...

Article here. Hmmm, so Mr. Bennett believes having a gun will only "escalate the situation". Isn't that the point? Having guns allows the attacked crewmen to escalate the violence against the pirates. It's called self-defense, a concept that seems foreign to Mr. Bennett.

The other idiotic thing is the fact that the foreign navies patrolling the area appear to have a catch-and-release policy for any pirates they do actually capture. What the heck is up with that? No wonder we have a piracy problem.

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