8/14/2009

Why not arm the crews?

With Congress starting to debate whether to put military on merchant ships, why can't we get a serious debate going about letting ships' crews defend themselves? From Fox News:

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to put armed teams on U.S.-flagged ships passing through high-risk waters, specifically around the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates have become a scourge of world shipping.

The amendment now goes to the Senate. A separate bill introduced last month would grant immunity from prosecution in American courts to any "owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force, or authorizes the use of force, to defend a vessel of the United States against an act of piracy."

Both measures face tough debate — U.S. military resources are spread thin and onboard weapons, especially in the hands of civilian crew, are seen as an extreme option.

"Work and watch-keeping take up most of a seafarer's day," Sam Dawson of the International Transport Workers' Federation, which represents hundreds of unions, told The Associated Press by e-mail. "The practice, handling and use of weapons would be a duty too far."

But there is a strong push for action following the April seizure of the MV Maersk Alabama.

That standoff, which transfixed the American public, ended with the killing of three pirates by Navy SEAL snipers and the release of the vessel's captain, Richard Phillips. . . .

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3 Comments:

Blogger 1 said...

"why can't we get a serious debate going about letting ships' crews defend themselves?"...

One of the major problems with putting armed people on board ships is the nature of the how laws that treat firearms and those who carry them and use them...

Many countries have different laws...

All these laws can be to the letter of the law in some countries...

Some countries enforce their laws in favor of those who pay the best bribes...

Then there are those countries with nothing in the way of law inforcement resources...

The liability ship owners could incur is a problem, the flagging of ships is a problem but the real problem when it comes to this Congress and this President is something that's even more serious, it just might work....

Consider the following from Weasel Zippers: Top USAF General in Afghanistan Says He's Considering Ordering Warplanes to Scare Away Taliban Fighters With Low Fly-Over Instead of Killing Them....

'Our troops on the ground have recently been subjected to strict ROE making it extremely difficult to fight back, now our jets are going to be used to make loud noises instead of dropping precision guided bombs'...

8/14/2009 5:13 AM  
Blogger Kip said...

I thought I had read somewhere that most countries forbid arms on merchant vessels in their ports. (Imagine, for example, what New York City or Los Angeles would do to a ship, captain and crew that showed up with evil black rifles on board and no permits from the local sheriff.)

8/14/2009 11:04 AM  
Blogger John A said...

"... would require the Department of Defense to put armed teams on U.S.-flagged..." ships

Require, or allow? Letting the owner or captain request armed presence, with some expectation of getting it, is one thing - forcing it upon them is something else.

And "US-flagged?" Not all that many, even vs US-owned.

And yes, the option of arming crew, well... as others point out, ships which arm their crews, or allow crew to have arms of their own, could potentially have big troubles even here in US ports.

Perhaps it is time to bring back a new version of the MTB or PT boat of WWII. Fast, light, crew of four to twelve, capable of operating at least a week...

8/14/2009 4:52 PM  

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