I’ve previously blogged about one of the legal challenges faced by merchant ships that want to secure their ships against piracy by using armed guards – many ports don’t allow weapons, so having armed guards can be a legal liability.
Looks like some security/shipping companies have come up with a novel solution:
Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating armories in international waters so ships that want armed anti-piracy guards for East Africa’s pirate-infested waters can cut costs and circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry officials say.
Companies and legal experts say the operation of the armories is a “legal gray area” because few, if any, governments have laws governing the practice. Some security companies have simply not informed the governments of the flag their ship is flying, industry officials said.
While it’s somewhat disturbing that this is being conducted with essentially zero oversight, it’s an interesting legal hack. It would be better and more efficient if there some sort of legal framework for ships to carry self-defense weapons in and out of ports in the region, but this may be a good start – though I worry about the precedent it sets. While it’s being used to protect ships now, there’s little to stop more nefarious actors from using a similar tactic.
Sidebar: If you’re interested in piracy, the website gCaptain has a great weekly update on recent attacks and the latest news in piracy.