Captain Richard Phillips' statement on arming the crew against pirates

His testimony is available here:

"I do believe that arming the crew as part of an overall strategy could provide an effective deterrent under certain circumstance and I believe that as part of a measured capability in this respect should be part of the overall debate about how to defend ourselves against criminals on the seas."

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Blogger Brian K Miller said...

Um... I don't mean to nitpick, but your headline says "pilots" instead of "pirates".

Thanks for the heads up on this article! I'll go read it now.

5/06/2009 3:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You cherry-picked the part that makes it sound like he wants guns on board. To my ears the complete testimony shows he does not want guns on board if there is any other solution.

You leave out the part where he says that the most desirable and appropriate solution is for the US government to provide protection.

And only if this is not possible then we should make the ships structurally more secure, also anti-piracy procedures, tools and training.

Then he says (paraphrase)

"I have heard that all we have to do to counter piracy is arm the crews. In my opinion arming the crew can not and should not be view as the best or ultimate solution... at most arming the crew should be only one component... to the extent that we arm the crew my preference is that only a limited number of individuals should have access to weaponry, and they should have special training on a regular basis... we must be very cautious about how it is done"

5/06/2009 10:32 PM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

I am surprised Lurch didn't have his testimony stricken from the record. :)

5/06/2009 10:38 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Matthew:

As my quote says, he sees it "as part of an overall strategy." He argues against the claim that it is "all we have to do." Fine. My quote doesn't say otherwise. But you are wrong to argue that he doesn't want arms on board and he is critical of other solutions being perfect as well. He starts off by saying that the navy can't protect them. I think that you have a very biased reading of what he said.

5/06/2009 11:24 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Biased how?

He suggests three solutions, arming the crew being the last option and the only one he says would create problems in itself.

Does that sounds like a man who want his crew armed?

I think he would be fine with a couple navy personnel, though, technically that is guns on board. This is very different than arming the crew though. Something like this was done during WWII. They found merchant marine sailors didn't handle guns very well, so they shipped gun crews from the navy.

5/06/2009 11:56 PM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

The probable reason the MM didn't handle guns very well is that they weren't trained. Most people can be trained to be proficient in the use of firearms. Such skills are not the sole purview of the military.

5/07/2009 7:46 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Yes, with the right training (and psych screening) crew members could easily be certified to store and use weapons on board merchant ships. Especially since the weapons don't have to be very powerful. I think I heard a ship with a couple of Israeli security guards drove off pirates with pistols. It might be cheaper to take on private security when near Somalia though.

5/07/2009 6:08 PM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

Since when does the power of a weapon indicate ease of training? It's just as easy to teach someone to use a RPG, sniper rifle or machine gun. The military does it with teenagers all the time. A pistol is a close range weapon that would be of last resort for a person on a ship that is hundreds of feet long. If possible, it would be better if they didn't get that close. As far as cost goes, I would think it would be irrelevant when you consider what a ransom might be or the loss of service and cargo. It sounds to me like you have an aversion (bias) against people defending themselves in a manner they deem necessary.

5/08/2009 7:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

No - I think a pistol would be less dangerous to have on board than a RPG.

5/08/2009 5:35 PM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

For whom and why?

5/08/2009 10:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

For the ship. RPGs are designed to penetrate metal and they use heat to do it. There's a fire risk. Hand guns and rifles would be much safer for a ship.

5/09/2009 3:21 PM  
Blogger The Right Guy said...

I don't want to beat this point to death, but there are different projectiles for different purposes. While you may perceive that a pistol is safer, they are on effective when an enemy is within 25 yards for most people, 50 at best. It would be more effective if you could dispatch a pirate boat before they are able to board.

5/09/2009 6:17 PM  

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