Ignorance Is Bliss

According to a recent report in Lloyd’s List, shipowners are ignoring official advice and routinely employing armed guards on ships sailing in pirate-infested waters.

With the urgent need effective security deterrents – the hiring of professional armed security personnel is increasingly being seen as the best and most cost efficient way of protecting ships.

Owners are naturally hesitant to discuss such matters publicly, especially as many governments, shipowner associations and naval forces remain “anti- weapon” on commercial vessels. There is a distinct disconnect developing between those who don’t think guns are the answer, and those who increasingly see that they are.

A typical operation will usually see four guards on board, almost certainly ex-military and likely to be former Royal Marines, armed with AK-47 assault weapons and highly visible when in dangerous waters. They usually join the ship in Djibouti or India, and stay onboard for the entire time the ship is deemed to be in the danger zone.

It seems the costs of hiring armed security teams is still less than following official guidelines and increasing a vessel’s speed or deviating, and of course is far cheaper than paying out a ransom should a ship be seized.

In shipping success drives adoption, and with no ship with armed personnel onboard having yet been taken by pirates it is clearly an increasingly attractive option.

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