Last week, USNI Blog covered the shooting death of a pirate by private security guards protecting a Panama Flag cargo ship in the post ‘Pirate Walks The Plank; Legal Scholars Baffled‘.
Private security contractors killed a Somali pirate Wednesdayâ€“and no one seems to know how to react.
Roger Middleton from the British think tank Chatham House commented that thereâ€™s currently no regulation of private security on board ships, no guidelines about who is responsible in case of an attack, and no industrywide standards. So whatâ€™s next? – Link
Today via Fairplay Shipping News comes an answer to the ‘what’s next?’ question and I am not surprised:
Pirate suspects released
EU NAVFOR has told Fairplay that it has freed six pirate suspects detained after a deadly gunfight because there was no chance of conviction.
A pirate suspect was shot dead by guards during the attempted hijacking of Panama-flagged, 2,886dwt general cargo ship Almezaan off Somalia on 23 March. It was the first known slaying by such guards on a ship since the piracy crisis began.
Six others suspected of involvement in the attack were later detained by a team from EU NAVFORâ€™s Spanish warship Navarra. Spain began talks with Kenya and the Seychelles yesterday to negotiate a hand-over of the six pirate suspects for trial.
But EU NAVFOR spokesman Commander John Harbour told Fairplay today that the anti-piracy force had freed the suspects after 24 hours of intense investigation.
â€śWe made the decision not to prosecute as the master refused to testify, and there was no case against the pirates,â€ť he said.
The guard accused of shooting the suspect who died also refused to talk to authorities, Harbour added.
The six suspects who were freed had one of their skiffs returned and were provided with fuel to return to shore. - Fairplay
Here is what I think is relevant:
- A shipping company went through the trouble and expense to protect their ship with armed guards.
- It is possible to arrange for arms to be placed onboard commercial vessels for use by private security forces.
- Their investment contributed to the successful defense of their ship.
- The defense of the ship resulted in the death of a pirate.
- Navel forces in the area arrived too late to assist the vessel under attack.
- The surviving pirates were caught and quickly released.
- The vessel crew and contractors refused to testify, probably out of fear of legal action against them as a result of the death of the pirate.
To me, this is a simple issue. The cargo ships are the ‘high value targets’. To properly protect them requires placing defenses between the ships and the pirates. The best way to do that is to have the defenders onboard, not just over the horizon. In fact, I am starting to wonder if the naval forces are providing a false sense of security. For the moment at least they seem to be doing their best anti-pirate operations when pirates have the misfortune to attack them directly.
Note: Be sure to check out the conversation in the comments section of the previous post linked above.
- Midrats this Sunday, May 17 2013 – Episode 167: Intellectual Integrity, PME, and NWC
- Remembering our Fallen Coast Guard Shipmates and their Families
- On Midrats 10 Mar 13, Episode 166: “Expeditionary Fleet Balance”
- Guest Post by LTJG Matthew Hipple: From Epipolae to Cyber War
- For Strength and Courage: Neptunus Lex