News not too long ago of a merchant sailor found shot dead on a ship released by Somali pirates is just one more example of how dangerous modern-day pirates are:

Somali pirates have released a Dutch ship they had hijacked last month in the Gulf of Aden and one crew member was found dead aboard the boat, the Dutch defence ministry told AFP.

“The pirates let the ship, in which a crew member was found dead, leave,” ministry spokesman Marcel Pullen said. “He was shot dead.”

The victim had died the day of the MV Marathon’s capture on May 7, he added. – Yahoo News(Found via EagleSpeak)

Merchant ships are being picked on by pirates simply because it is a safe bet that the merchant ships are unarmed and easy targets.

Looking at the threat, the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization, in a move certain to protect the safety of pirates only, has decided to flatly reject any suggestion of arming merchant seamen:

The MSC agreed that flag States should strongly discourage the carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship.

Seafarers, it was agreed, are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great.Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker.

Carriage of firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods. – IMO guidance statement via EagleSpeak

This ‘professional’ guidance is a joke.

For starters, pirates are already attacking ships with fully-automatic weapons and RPGs. What is more dangerous, rounds going outbound from a ship or explosive RPG rounds coming inbound…. Crazier is the IMO suggesting that seafarers are not skilled enough to use firearms because their use requires special training. This the same group that has absolutely no hesitation in sticking seafarers in school to drill them on everything right down to how to properly wash your hands as part of ‘Personal Safety and Social Responsibility’. To this point nothing has been deemed beyond the training ability of a seafarer, so why now? I can’t think of any reason other than a desire to remove guns from the equation. Too bad for the IMO, that they have no control in removing the weapons causing the problems.

Another argument against arming merchant ships is the ‘threat of escalation’. The first question concerning that threat is with what are they are going to escalate with?

The most realistic option I can think of is that they just use more boats and RPGs. Attacks with larger numbers of boats being involved has already been seen. I can’t think of any more-powerful weapon that they could easily deploy. More advanced weapons are probably much harder to come by, and when available much more expensive, given competing interests. So even if pirates get their hands on something more advanced/powerful, they are probably not going to be so quick to use it, unless they are sure that it will result in a capture. They might as easily destroy the ship in the process. Now, they might be able to arm themselves with a cannon, but they would need a larger/sturdier boat if they wanted to use it. Acquiring a larger vessel might be more of a problem than acquiring more-powerful weapons.

Current attacks have involved small fast boats. Larger craft would probably not be able to go as fast. This will reduce the number of available targets at it becomes easier for faster ships to get away.

A bigger pirate boat, while allowing pirates a more stable platform and give the ability to field more powerful weapons, would also provide defending merchant seamen with bigger targets. Still, pirate boats are less stable platforms to shoot from than merchant ships which are large stable platforms that are not effected to any significant degree except in the harshest weather.

This brings the question, what should merchant mariners be aiming at. There are only two targets, the pirates and the boat that they are riding in. I think that it be best that if any attempt is made to arm merchant ships, then the arming should include the ability to disable pirate boats. If there is to be escalation, then it should be our side that does the escalating.

One weapon that should be considered is a 40mm grenade launcher. Here is one option:

The MGL (Multiple Grenade Launcher) is a lightweight 40 mm semi-automatic, 6-shot grenade launcher developed and manufactured in South Africa by the Milkor company (renamed Rippel Effect in 2007). The MGL was demonstrated as a concept to the South African Defence Force in 1981. The operating principle was immediately accepted and subjected to a stringent qualification program. The MGL was then officially accepted into service with the SADF as the Y2. After its introduction in 1983, the MGL was gradually adopted by the armed forces and law enforcement organizations of over 30 countries; it has since proven its effectiveness in harsh environments ranging from rain forests to deserts. Total production since 1983 has been more than 18,000 units.

The MGL is multiple-shot weapon, intended to significantly increase a small squad’s firepower when compared to traditional single-shot grenade launchers like the M203. The MGL is designed to be simple, rugged and reliable. It uses the well-proven revolver principle to achieve a high rate of accurate fire which can be rapidly brought to bear on a target. A variety of rounds such as HE, HEAT, anti-riot baton, irritant or pyrotechnic can be loaded and fired at a rate of one per second; the cylinder can be loaded or unloaded rapidly to maintain a high rate of fire. Although intended primarily for offensive/defensive use with high-explosive rounds, with appropriate ammunition the launcher is suitable for anti-riot and other security operations. – Wikipedia

Even a ‘miss’ will still have pirates thinking twice about continuing an attack against an armed vessel, probably thinking it better to search for an easier target, especially if their vessel is put at risk. And it need not be the merchant sailors that operate these weapons, but armed military teams embarked on the ships that are targeted by pirates.

There are valid reasons not to arm merchant ships against pirates, but the threat of escalation and a claimed lack of training on behalf of the crew are not. (And anyway, just where are the pirates getting their firearms training?)

So what am I missing? It seems that the threat of escalation is one that should be most risked by the pirates, not the sailors they threaten.

Note: This is cross-posted on my blog Fred Fry International.

On Defending Unarmed Merchant Ships Against Pirates

Posted by FFry in Maritime Security, Piracy
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  • virgil xenophon

    This is the same mind-set that sees gun ownership by homeeowners as dangerous and that all protection from criminals should be done by the police. And with cargo vessels and Somali Pirates, EXACTLY as is the case of the homeowner facing a criminal home invader; “When seconds count the Police are only minutes away.” When the now deceased legendary Harry Lee was Sheriff of Jefferson Parish, LA (the suburban half of New Orleans) everyone thought it amazing–indeed unheard of–that he flooded the streets with enough cars that police responded within no more than TWO (2) minutes–a response rate almost unheard of in the annals of policing. Do you know how much damage can be done in two minutes? And most police response times in most jurisdictions are FAR, FAR greater than that. Likewise, with ships at sea. NOT arming merchant ships transiting those waters is not only the height of insanity, it sadly reveals the modern insipid “progressive” nanny-state, risk-adverse, lawyer-driven, totalist mindset which thinks jungle-gyms too dangerous for children’s playgrounds–let alone individuals capable of handling fire-arms.

  • Carl

    Not sure the grenade launcher is the best weapon given the speed of approach of a small boat. But an automatic weapon mounted on a stable platform could throw enough lead to dissuade would-be attackers. The challenge is having enough weapons and crew to sustain the defense against multiple attack vectors.

    Insurance considerations might also affect the decision if such defense cancels insurance provisions where the current piracy miht be covered. (I don’t know enough to be sure so this is purely conjecture.)


  • Mike M.

    “Special training and aptitudes”? What nonsense! I can run a student through any of the NRA’s basic familiarization/safety courses in a single day. And the high-end professional defensive shooting schools consider a five-day course to be the long version.

    Not to mention that shooting is one of the very few Olympic sports iin which physically handicapped competitors can and do compete against everybody else. (Check the ISSF rulebook)

    With this level of ignorance on display, perhaps the IMO should take up a different line of work. Like asking people if they want fries with their order.

  • Byron

    Be a bad day indeed for pirates should they ever try to board the Cajun Navy, the Chouest ships and tugs the Navy uses a lot. Buddy of mine did some diving off their boats, said when they got over the horizon from Pearl Harbor that virtually everyone from the cook to the captain was packing at least one weapon!

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Military Sealift Command CivMars and contracted crewmembers on Public Vessels (US GOVT owned)operated by contractors for MSC are armed and trained.

    The American Maritime Officers union and other maritime unions run small arms training on an ongoing basis. The quality of instruction is completely competent.

    The right to self defense is inherent. American Merchant Marine crews are quite capable and sensible, as recent events have proven.

    While a Naval Armed Guard and warship escort is optimum, the IMO position that (American, at least) Merchant Marine crews are incapable of armed self defense is patent nonsense.

    Or to be blunt, craven.

  • And it is not like Merchant Mariners don’t already have things onboard that shoot, like powerful distress flares and very cool rocket-powered line throwing guns (rifles). It’s not like you get lots of training on those, other than shooting off expired ordinance.

    As for choosing the grenade launcher, I think it is much more useful and portable than something like a mounted machine gun. First, it can easily accompany a team being embarked by helicopter. The weapon can be moved to the side of the ship that the attackers are approaching. It has multiple rounds loaded. It can disable an attacking craft. It appears simple to operate and probably can be dropped to vessels transiting without operators if needed. It does not appear to jam easily.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey virgil;

    “NOT arming merchant ships transiting those waters is not only the height of insanity, it sadly reveals the modern insipid “progressive” nanny-state, risk-adverse, lawyer-driven, totalist mindset which thinks jungle-gyms too dangerous for children’s playgrounds–let alone individuals capable of handling fire-arms.”

    You got yourself a free beer any time you visit the People’s Democratic Republic of Vermont!

  • Byron

    Actually, URR, I’d rather go to Virgils place, eat some etoufee, pinch a bunch of tails, suck a bunch of heads, and drink some Dixie beer while we listen to zydeco 😉

  • AT1 B

    What is wrong with putting trained gun crews onboard merchant flagged vessels to go all the shooting and defending? We have done it in the past and it shouldn’t be that hard to do it again in the future to defened against this threat. Then we don’t need to worry aout violating the IMO’s rules. Just a thought.

  • UltimaRatioReg


    Fine, fine. GO where there isn’t snow 8 months a year.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    But mail up some Dixie beer, will ya?

  • leesea

    Grampa Blue has stated the situation correctly for MSC owned/contracted ships. To which I might add there are already weapons mounts onboard.

    I would re-establish the Naval Armed Guards under MSC as a reserve program. MSC is perfectly capable of administering and assigning NAG teams to ANY US flag ship with which it as a contactual arrangement, and that includes most US flag ocean-going merchant ships.

    The NAGs and their gear can get on and off US flag mechants in foreign ports by using aleady established port clearance procedures for MSC ships. It is not much of an expansion and would keep the port state in the loop as far a weapons/ammo etc were concerned.

    The arrangements for training and weapons can be expanded from current MSC ships to all US flag ocean going ships by new contracts at additional costs.

    IMHO arming merchant marines is NOT the answer to providing force protection to US flag merchant ships some of which are carrying vital cargos. That is a naval mission and must be performed by naval personnel. Not that the mariners can not do it, just that the Navy should stand up and do their JOB!

  • Grampa Bluewater



    The NAG is alive and well and doing business every day, manned by USN sailors drawn from the Master at Arms (MA)rating. Detachments are assigned by Mother Navy to MSC vessels as deemed necessary and appropriate. Vital cargo, dangerous route, that sort of thing.

    For US Flag (or other) commercial shipping, carrying non military cargo in ordinary trade to or through extraordinarily dangerous places, there are private security companies to augment the crews. Ghurka soldiers no longer in service to HM the Queen are actively recruited for shipboard employment. Arms? Up to the owners.

    Not all port states are hospitable to armed guards in shipboard employment.

  • AT1 B


    The problem is there is piracy all over the world. It is there in the Carribean, the Mediterrian, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Philippine sea, Straits of Malacca, off the coast of Africa. There is no way the US Navy can be every place at all times. There is also compared to what it was fifty plus years ago, the US doesn’t have a US flagged merchant fleet like it use to. So except for what few super tankers that exsist out there and a few merchant companies that are willing to put up with all the various taxes that the US Congress has levied against shipping companies owning merchant ships (not some of these taxes also apply to the cruise liners, that is why you see nearly all thier home ports being in Liberia). It is also very expensive to the world’s economy to be convoying ships all over the place. See what happened post 1973 and the closure of the Suez Canal or even the cost increases of oil during the Iran-Iraq war even after the US and UK started to convoy oil tankers in and out of the Persian Gulf.

  • Curtis

    I know why nobody wants to put weapons on merchant ships and after almost 30 years of navy experience I can accept why they don’t think it’s a good idea. In fact, I agree. Stupid idea.

    Now let’s talk reactive armor sorts of solutions. Marinized Claymore mines mounted at just above sea-level on the transom and a few other strategic places and we now have an instant pirate removal tool and we’ve totally eliminated weapons maintenance and operation issues. Push the button and pirates go away.

  • Grampa Bluewater


    What a charming thought! It’ll need maintenence and 360 degree coverage and a way to safe it so you blow away the office building
    across the slip in port doing a firing circuit check (details, details). But I LIKE it.

    Like I said before, weapons are already on them. This is an attempt to get em off before the idea of real self defense spreads.

  • Curtis,
    Do explain why you think it is a bad idea, other than the thought of a Naval boarding team having to board a merchant vessel that has weapons onboard. After all, the ones that are a threat probably already have them.

    Putting armed naval teams onboard merchant ships gets around the problem of limited hulls to patrol the area. The teams travel onboard the high value targets limiting the need to cover the whole ocean in search of pirates. They can embark just outside the threat areas from a mothership and be collected at the other end. Every ship does not have to be protected, just enough to make the act of piracy one that involves some level of risk. The key is having a means of defense onboard the ship. Currently, the pirates know that naval forces will not engage them if they can manage to get on the ship. With weapons onboard, that is no longer a valid plan.

    There is another option for better covering the area. Add a couple UAVs. Even better if they were armed to deal with identified threats.

  • capospin

    I did not know that USMM crews were not armed in the first place. So YES, get US flagged merchents armed. It is hard to understand the thinking not to.

  • leesea

    I know that MAAs and MESF teams are assigne to some ships, but your missed my point. MSC masters don’t need “ship riders” assigned by someone else and not reporting to him/her. MSC needs to “own” the NAG and have those sailors in the chain of command. MSC can make all the arrangements for the NAG teams from weapons mounts, to ammo storage to handling, to ROE and yes MSC already does port clearances.
    There have been at least four different arrangement for putting Marines, Soliders and now Sailors on MSC ships over the last 15 years that I know of. None of them have been permanent or very effective. The answer is a NAG under MSC. The puts sailors where they are needed, when they are needed on ships that are or might be threatened.

    There are simply too many legal and international obstacles to putting private security teams on other US flag ships.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Well, given the additional information, I agree with paragraph I.

    I don’t think MSC wants the job as a type commander for NAG dets. The ship’s are under the operational chain of command for the Area Commander (formerly the CinC) under his opcon and so are the NAG’s.

    The Navy isn’t a free public utility for ship owners. There aren’t enough MA’s to garrison every US flag (under US registry)vessel. Who’s going to pay?

    Absent a declaration of war, the law is a bit fuzzy, too. Public (govt owned) vessels and more specifically naval auxiliaries
    are in a different category, more or less US territory out to the lifelines. Civilian shipping is more like a vehicle with a foreign plate, subject to the laws of the nation it happens to be in. On the high seas they are able to call on the protection of the USN if in distress. I do not believe there is any barrier to self defense on the high seas.

    That’s a rough outline, if any Admiralty lawyers lurking want to give a precis and summarize, I’d be happy to be clarified and corrected by someone with genuine expertise.

    Point being, arming and garrisoning a ship is the owner’s call.
    If Uncle Sam is the owner, it’s armed.

  • “Civilian shipping is more like a vehicle with a foreign plate, subject to the laws of the nation it happens to be in.”
    – US flag ships (foreign flag as well) are subject to the laws of the flag they fly, and when in another country’s territory subject to their laws as well. The US considers sailors on US Flag vessels to still be in the US and pay taxes.

    “Who’s going to pay?”
    – This is what you pay taxes for. A policemen gives you a ticket for breaking the law, not coming to your aid…

  • leesea

    MSC is THE type commander for all sealift ships (under contract as well as VISA and MSP) and NFAF and Special Mission ships. This is NOT about MAAs its about sailors for force protection. I did not mean to imply that non-MSC contracted ships would get the extra protection for free, of course it would cost them. BUT MSC nucleus fleet ships should be protected by MSC personnel not someone else’s.

    MSC has provided Convoy Commanders (in the past), provides ship supercargos now, provides port and loading coordinators now. All of those mostly reserve programs are managed by MSC and they can certainly manage one more (this I know from first hand experince!).

    We have got to move the ball forward on merchant ship force protection! Reestablishing the NAG will do that. The COCOMs and OPCOMs have no interest in doing such, “IT” isn’t their problem (or haven’t you been reading all the press releases from Fifth Fleet?)

    Task MSC and make it so!

    BTW there are extensive Force Protection procedrure clauses in most charter parties for MSC ships and similar provisions in USNS ship operatiing instructions.

    The former are available on MSC’s website

  • Grampa Bluewater


    Unless “double hatted” (holding both positions simultaneously) Type Commanders do not exercise operational control of the deployed forces they train, maintain, and certify the readiness of before providing them to the Naval Component Commander of the Joint Area Commander (CENTCOM, SOUTHCOM, et al.). The Naval Component Commander’s chain issues operation orders to the units under his/her command, which have been provided (once ready) by the Type Commander.

    It’s all about the money and the skill set required.

    The Naval Armed Guards are provided by their type commander, (which is not, as far as I know, MSC), to the Naval Component Commander, whose chain of command assigns a detachment to the ship to be guarded.

    There is a logistic chain of command (MSC) and an operational chain of command (naval component commander)). Sometimes the same Commander is in both.

    Making MSC the trainer, equipper, and inspector for the NAG’s may be beneficial from a coordination point of view, but the expertise is not part of the MSC skill set yet, last time I checked.

    USNS ships are MSC ships. Lost me there.

    The confusion factor may be that MSC also charters ships (not USNS)from commercial shipping companies for military cargo (acting as an agent) for all the armed forces. Some of these have contracts with civilian security firms for security guards.

    Additionally, shipping companies charter MSC’s own government vessels (USNS) (without crews) and then MSC contracts with the shipping companies to operate the chartered (government vessels)with the company crews.

    Some vessels owned by the government are controlled by the Maritime Administration, manned and operated under contract by shipping companies, and chartered as required by MSC (not USNS).

    Your point is that we can and must be more efficient, uniform, and logistically effective about the Armed Guard mission. I quite agree.

    I take it you understand the above summary quite clearly. My intent is/was to be descriptive rather than prescriptive, for the benefit of the general readers of the discussion.

    Any corrections by experts lurking/reading are solicited and welcome, the above is generalized and broad brush, but you can see it is a matter of some complexity, for good or ill.

    My point:
    Despite all the desk jockeys getting all lathered up about letting civilian crews have guns and use them in shipboard
    defense, to date all the folks at the sharp end, merchant marine, contract security firm employees, and Navy Masters at Arms, have been professional, responsible, disciplined and effective. I’ve sailed with them all as a watchstanding mate or Chief Mate, and they all have my respect.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Fred Fry:

    “– US flag ships (foreign flag as well) are subject to the laws of the flag they fly, and when in another country’s territory subject to their laws as well. The US considers sailors on US Flag vessels to still be in the US and pay taxes.”

    I know, but practically speaking, the it is the locals’ call about whose rules trump whose rules with respect to bearing arms in their territory.

    They decide if the Captain or the Gangway Watch spends 10 years eating a sweet potato a day in the local dungeon.

    ” A policemen gives you a ticket for breaking the law, not coming to your aid…”

    At the current level of funding, help may be a long time coming.
    Maybe about as late as Captain Biddle and Corporal Tyree were in getting to Sudro’s Wells’ stagecoach station. Big ocean, smaller and smaller Navy every day.

  • Byron

    Grampa, the Captain and the Corporal DID make it though 😉 And John Wayne always won 🙂

  • Grampa Bluewater


    Didn’t do Ma and Pa Sudro much good.

    Except in Reap the Wild Wind – I mean he got eaten by a giant squid and Ray Milland (?!} got the girl.

  • Byron

    Yeah, well, it took a giant squid to do it 😉

  • John Dallman

    There’s a simpler problem with arming merchant ship crews. They’re quite unlikely to use the guns, for good reasons.

    The pirates, like all sensible pirates through history, don’t harm crews who surrender. They may keep them captive for a while, but that’s much preferable to getting shot. Pirates have plenty of motive to intimidate crews via the media, and are committing piracy anyway; killing people doesn’t make their crime sifgnificantly bigger.

    Merchant ship crews generally have no personal stake in the ship or cargo, and no long-term employment relationship to create loyalty to the company. They are employed on short-term contracts, because the shipping companies see that as cheaper, along with using flags of convinience.

    So, your deckhand from a third world country has a choice: use this gun he’s been issued with and trained on, and know that if the pirates win a firefight, he’s likely to get shot even if he escapes harm during the fight. Or don’t use it, and survive unharmed. Americans sitting safely at home may see the first as realistic, and the second as unbearably humilliating, but will he?

  • NWC Student

    The problem that I see is that a substantial number of international ports prohibit weapons aboard. That problem could be avoided if “Naval boarding teams” are used. However, this then puts an additional critical factor in play , time.

    In order to embark and offload these boarding teams would cost valuable time. The time required to do the transfer may in fact make shipping in the area cost prohibitive, or at the very least the cost of paying ransom to pirates would be monetarily smaller than the revenue lost due to increased transit times and servicing fees that would be required by these naval boarding teams.

    This explanation does not even take into account the factor of space. Which would inevitably expose the ship disembarking troops to the merchant vessel to attack. What is a bigger target, the merchant vessel or a military/paramilitary vessel. These Pirates have keenly demonstrated that they understand the nature of their craft and the utility of public relations. Can you imagine the effect if a pirate was able to disable, or otherwise damage a U.S. or coalition vessel?

  • Grampa Bluewater

    J.D.: Whereas the American crewmembers on American flag ships will take them on without firearms. And have. Successfully. Recently.

    Relying on the good will and forebearance of pirates is chancy.
    Remember the slaughter of entire crews in order to steal and sell the cargo, dummy up new ship’s papers and sell the entire ship too?

    I love the term “sensible pirates”, which is then equated to all pirates. Another charmer is “deck hand from a third world country”. Sure, they all are very pacifistic and passive.
    They share a common culture. NOT. with Thoreau. NOT. Ditto pirates, all the same. NOT. It depends. Details vary.

    I maintain a well equipped security force, heavily and obviously armed has a deterrant effect on piracy. By heavily armed I mean able to sink the boats carrying the pirates boarding party. Grenade launchers, machine guns, and command initiated mines..

    The crew, including security force, has one distinct advantage.
    If the fight is on, they have no need to give quarter.

    My opinion:
    If pirates successfully board and subdue the crew, the crew’s fate cannot be predicted, regardless of whether they resist or not.

    • Deep Bluewater

      Any chance I can get in touch with you? I’m a soon retired Vet of the U.S. Army, looking for work.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Relying on the good will and forbearance of pirates is chancy.”

    Hey Grampa, can I borrow that statement to use in discussions substituting the following words for “pirates”?:

    North Korea
    Al Qaeda
    Hugo Chavez

    Pretty please????

  • Grampa Bluewater

    Honored, Sir, Honored.

  • Grampa Bluewater

    NWC Student:

    Outfit a container as an armory, magazine, and baggage storeroom.
    Leave outward markings non-descript.

    Ship as sealed cargo (hazmat – flammable, etc.) to be opened for customs inspection at ultimate destination (any U. S. port) Embark at convenient port near voyage route as deck cargo. Guards travel and embark as relief crewmembers (no further information provided in civilian travel documents, no personal baggage except worn civilian workman’s clothing and personal articles), travel arrangements including cab or bus from airport to port made through shipping company agent at port of embarkation. Do not travel as a group, stay slightly scruffy. Or wear ear and nose rings, shave heads, temp gang tats, and t-shirts “Dixie Chicks World Tour Stage Hands- I’m with the Band” on the airplane.

    No delay.

  • Joel

    As a former armed security officer and former correctional officer, I can testify that being trained to carry weapons takes a matter of a couple of days to get certified to be an armed guard either privately or for the government. Honestly, a box of .308 rifles (AR-10, G-3, FN Fal, M1A, etc) issued one each to the crew would be enough suppressive fire to dissuade most pirates. Add in an M2 .50 for some extra punch.

  • PanAmman

    I think we are all skirting the real point here. The capability of self defense by the merchant marine is prohibited in practical application by the fact that > 80% of the worlds merchant cargo either originate from or terminates at a port prohibiting weapons on merchant ships. Most don’t make any stops in between. LOL

    The civil merchant guys know this.

    The fact that these ships may transit dangerous territory means that the teams and or weapons to defend ships transiting dangerous areas need to be added and removed in transit. That’s expensive no mater who is doing it, or how.

    As mentioned earlier in the posts there is the additional complication of liability transfer or deferral due the actuarial tables that clearly show that arming ships gets expensive ships damaged and or sank. A costly message that pirates use to get the ship owners and insurance companies to minimize escalation.

    The worlds military powers typically indemnify ships owners and insurers contracted by, to or from the military to carry sensitive cargoes. It’s part of the contract. It’s also why they get scarce / expensive NAG teams.

    What is needed is a low cost way to temporarily escort a ship through troubled waters and then turn around and escort the next one back.

    Any of you hard chargers want to spend a week in skiff behind a civilian container ship with a full aito and grenade launcher? $5k a week and all the Dramamine you can stomach.

    This is not a flame or an insult it has actually been done!

    Keep it real,
    or don’t do the deal!

  • Dear PanAmman,
    Getting arms to the ships has turned into somewhat of a non-issue. I say this because ships are employing armed guards and they are managing to get sophisticated and powerful weapons onboard the vessels. Feared difficulties in relation to calling ports with the weapons onboard have apparently not materialized.

    “actuarial tables that clearly show that arming ships gets expensive ships damaged and or sank. A costly message that pirates use to get the ship owners and insurance companies to minimize escalation.”

    Please cite examples where this is the case? All of the current examples show that when the vessels have armed protectors onboard the pirates lose.

    Concerning this comment:
    “Any of you hard chargers want to spend a week in skiff behind a civilian container ship with a full aito and grenade launcher? $5k a week and all the Dramamine you can stomach.”

    Why on earth would you place vessel defenders anywhere but on the vessel? Putting them on a skiff removes the advantages of being on a large stable platform and opens the vessel defenders to additional risk of a breakdown, capsize or even capture!

  • I am both an instructor and an active captain on sea-going tugs. We used a multiple shotgunner team approach and have successfully repelled an attempted boarding. First gunner used a Saiga semiauto shotgun loaded with buck. His job was to take out the RPG gunner and then sweep the deck. Second gunner had a pump with buck and ball ammo. His job was to take out the helmsman and then sweep the deck. Third gunner also had a pump with slugs and his job was to take out the engine and then sweep the boat. We had to time this so our gunners appeared just before the pirates came alongside the tug. It worked just fine.

  • George

    ”seafarers are not skilled enough to use firearms because their use requires special training”

    Most of the seamen have served in the armed forces.

    (Greece,Philipines,Russia,Ukraine etc. are countries with

    Conscription and too many seamen.)

  • 1bmwdrvr1

    Not every “Somali” is a pirate… But everyone has a right to protect themselves. Take a few out and the message will be clear… The message the “fatted” calf has sharpened it’s horns…
    To the person who claimed that a third world deckhand would rather roll over and. Pray that the pirate will be merciful… How dare you portray anyone as being as much of a coward as you, just because they are from a third world Country? No one (in my humble opinion) would willingly submit their safety to a pirate group who is holding them at gunpoint…
    The best option is to remove the threat. There is a finite number of pirate vessels. The message will be sent that the “gravy train” has run dry…
    A company that sends a crew dripping in gold and jewels, with no protection, into a den of thrives, should be held culpable for the harm caused to the crew…

  • Grandma65

    I just saw the movie “Capt. Phillips”. The US Gov. told the Navy to do what was necessary to keep Capt. Phillips from reaching Somalia. What would have been the consequences if Capt. Phillips had not been rescued and the pirates were able to get him into Somalia?

  • Buttface35

    what kind of name is grandma65? lol its funny