The United Kingdom saysit will allow British-flagged ships to carry armed guards next year to defend against pirate attacks, leaving Japan and the Netherlands as the only major maritime nations that outlaw the use of weapons.
The Department of Transport published new rules allowing ship-owners to hire officially vetted private security firms on ships transiting defined high-risk areas. Companies that want to use armed guards must also file an advance counter-piracy plan with the department.
“We have not taken this decision lightly. It is clear that we must offer those flying the Red Ensign every opportunity to ensure the safety of their crews and vessels,” Shipping Minister Mike Penning said. “By allowing the use of armed guards in a structured, legal framework we can move to a system where ship-owners can provide an adequate deterrent against this scourge on the maritime industry.”
The Ministry of Transport said it expects around 100 U.K.-flagged ships that regularly sail through pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia to apply to use armed guards. Meanwhile, Greece is preparing legislation to allow armed guards on its ships.
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