Big Problem

The U.S. State Department does not want to see “guns-for-hire” on the high seas.

The prospect of having armed security guards ward off pirates presents a number of legal problems, according to Donna Hopkins, the Coordinator for Counter Piracy and Maritime Security in the State Department.

“I think the legal and political implications of private, armed escorts at sea are hugely problematic”.

The State Department is wary of companies providing security services to combat piracy. “As a matter of policy and philosophy for many years, governments have reserved for themselves the right maintain a monopoly on the use armed force,” Hopkins said. “The idea of armed escorts on the high seas calls into question some serious philosophy in that regard.”

In fact, most ship-owners have been hesitant to turn to private security contractors, fearing the liability associated with playing host to armed guards outweighs any benefits they might provide. That may now be changing, with more ship owners looking to private companies to protect them from pirates.

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