Saturday May 25, 2013
Unions Back Use of Guards with Weapons Aboard VesselsCharles Kuneff Special to Salem-News.com
Pressure is increasing on those who advocate a softer defensive approach of vessels against aggression by pirates.
(SANA, Yemen) - In a recent article in Lloyd’s List, Unions back use of armed guards on vessels, seafarer unions backed the use of guards carrying weapons on board vessels transiting high risk waters, where appropriate, while at the same time reiterating their resistance to arming seamen.
Like many in the industry, the seafarer unions appear resigned to the idea that a broader and more robust defence of vessels and their crews is required in light of the escalation and gradual spread of piracy on the high seas.
This is not to say that the unions have lost faith in use of Best Management Practice, as recommended by the IMO and BIMCO. On the contrary, the unions recognize that when BMP has been deployed correctly the threat of a successful pirate aggression has been diminished.
However, while some ship masters are reporting success in the deployment of Best Management Practice to deter and escape pirate aggression on their vessels, others have been less fortunate. For example, the Yasin C, a bulk carrier with 25 crew members on board, was taken earlier this week by pirates 250 nautical miles off Mombasa.
Although it is not clear whether the ship’s master and crew employed Best Management Practice to deter the pirate aggression and subsequent hijacking, one thing is certain: the call for a more robust second line of defence to Best Management Practice is beginning to grow louder amongst shipping companies and seafarers.
Indeed, more and more shipping companies are now turning to exclusive maritime defence companies to safe guard ships and their crews with guards equipped with weapons. This is in spite of recommendations made by the IMO and BIMCO not to deploy personnel equipped with weapons on board vessels.
Without doubt the debate for and against the use of guards equipped with weapons on board vessels still has a long way to run before any of the major maritime institutions, such as the IMO and BIMCO, waiver from their present stance of no guards equip with weapons on board vessels.
But clearly, with the escalation in hijackings and increasing demands for higher ransoms, the pressure is increasing on those who advocate a more soft approach to the defence of vessels against aggression by pirates.
The problem is: how long are the majority of shipping companies prepared to follow the IMO and BIMCO line before they too join the growing chorus calling for an integrated approach to the inclusion of guards with weapons on board vessels into Best Management Practice?
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