The threat of liability and why boats aren't armed against pirates

So do these boats face liability if they something goes wrong with a gun, but what if something goes wrong because they can't defend their crews? I found two points interesting here. 1) Apparently, many crews are armed. 2) At least some American crews are armed, though it might be limited to the guards who carry guns. 3) The countries with the greatest gun control restrictions seem to be the least logical about these risks. See this here:

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Crews have held pirates off with Molotov cocktails, crates of rubbish and oil drums. They've electrified handrails, sprayed attackers with high-pressure fire hoses and simply kicked the pirates' rickety ladders overboard.

But owners of ships plying the pirate-infested waters off Somalia's coast have balked at having firearms onboard, despite an increasing number of attacks where bullets pierced hulls or rocket propelled grenades whooshed overhead.

The reason is twofold: Owners fear pirates would be more likely to continue shooting once on board if they confronted weapons, and the company might be held liable for deaths or injuries inflicted by someone on the vessel.

"There's basically resistance to the idea of armed guards because of the risk of escalation ... possible harm to the crew," said Neil Roberts, a senior technical executive at Lloyd's Market Association, which provides support to underwriters with Lloyd's, the largest maritime insurance marketplace in the world. "Most ship owners don't encourage it." . . .

While the American government supports putting armed guards on ships as one of many preventative strategies, the British have been more reticent, expressing fears over possible court cases and the lack of clear, standard rules of engagement.
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Blogger John A said...

Well, insurance and liability suits are a big consideration.

But consider a cargo vessel boarded by Customs approaching or in Boston Mass. If a thorough search, including crew quarters, is done and firearms are found, what happens? Maybe nothing, if they are company-issued and secured in a locked safe - but I suspect anything else has the potential of problems ranging from temporary detention of a crewmember (and delaying departure) to seizure of the ship.

4/15/2009 6:30 PM  

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