Evidence Stacks Up

The past few months have seen a perceptible change in the approach of many shipping companies to the fight against piracy.

A host of large companies are turning from unarmed guards to the armed approach, with some interesting results. Uppermost in the decision making process is that fact that the armed approach seems to be working.

The shipping industry is a very pragmatic one, and with the naval forces being stretched across such a vast theatre it is clear that gaining time and breathing space from attackers is key.

It would appear that a “hardened” security approach is needed in order to take advantage of final tenets of the four anti-piracy basics, “Avoid, Evade, Deter, Delay”.

Education, training, awareness and vigilance can help with the avoiding and evading elements, but as the stakes have been raised, it seems armed guards are increasingly being seen as the best way to deter and delay attackers.

A host of recent incidents highlight the value of being able to provide warning shots, and a more robust and visible defence.

A recent master’s report from an attack in the IRTC, makes for very interesting reading – and is perhaps a compelling selling point for those pondering the difficult decision of whether to “go armed”:

Vessel was approached from the port quarter by the skiff and was fired upon (two rounds) by an AK-47 rifle. The security team leader retaliated by firing two shots in the air upon which the skiff slackened speed but continued to follow closely. Another two shots were fired on which the skiff gave up chase.”

It continues: “Coalition warship was informed during the course of the incident, crew mustered at first mustering point, ready to proceed to the citadel.

“[A] suspicious craft is still present in the vicinity and the vessel is at a high alert level.”

The pirates then retreated to set their sights on another ship in the same convoy. Put simply it seems the guns work…it might not seem like a terribly sophisticated or politically correct verdict, but the evidence in favour of a more robust response is stacking up.

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