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Friday, October 19, 2018

Arming of merchant vessels not to be undertaken lightly

The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) stated this week that a warship operating as part of the EU NAVFOR investigated a suspected pirate skiff with a crew of five in the Gulf of Aden. It launched a helicopter, which observed and filmed the crew throwing ladders and weapons over the side of the skiff. The warship directed the skiff to stop, but the skiff continued.


After warning shots were fired, the skiff stopped. A team from an RHIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat) boarded the skiff, where weaponry was found. One of the suspected pirates was wounded in the incident. Although he was provided medical treatment onboard the warship, he was later pronounced dead


The full statement can be seen in this press release


In a ‘blog’ published by Dennis L. Bryant of Bryant’s Maritime Consulting, Bryant alludes to the potential consequences of a civilian seafarer using a firearm which kills a pirate – something which INTERTANKO has said many times.


“I have little sympathy for pirates. I also believe that the accidental wounding and killing of this individual was very unfortunate. There is a lesson to be learned here, though not the one you might expect.


If trained sailors on a warship can accidentally kill someone on a small boat when firing warning or disabling shots - this is the second such incident - then (such a killing) is much more likely to occur if merchant mariners are routinely provided with firearms.


In this instance and the prior one, the sailor was a member of the military forces and thus not subject to the usual potential of prosecution by the nation of the deceased. The same cannot be said if the errant shot had been fired by a civilian.


Arming of merchant vessels should not be undertaken lightly.”


Contact: Bill Box