Britain’s Chamber of Shipping supports moves to create a clear legal framework for the use of armed guards, while pointing out the need for armed guards represents a failure by naval forces to protect merchant shipping.
Armed guards should be the last resort and not the first option, they argue, and they have led calls for military operations to be increased. In the meantime they have also recommended the short-term national accreditation of private security companies, as well as laws that permit “the exceptional carriage of armed security teams on merchant ships when no reasonable alternative means of mitigating the risks from pirate attack can be identified”.
Observers have rightly poined out that in an ideal world, commercial shipping should be protected from hijackers by naval warships. Sadly the world is far from perfect, and in providing effective, responsible and well trained private security guards there is at least a pragmatic last ditch response. It is now for the shipping industry, security companies and governments to make sure this solution is as effective and well managed as possible, while work continues to ensure that eventually the military response can and will work in quashing piracy.