It’s high time to assess the piracy risks not only in Africa, but anywhere in the World Ocean, because criminals of all flags and races already found out the evident - merchant vessels are
absolutely defenceless and vulnerable to attacks, hijacks and robbery. Floating warehouses full of goods worth millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions dollars move around without any
protection at all, except the height of freeboard and the speed. Shipping needs some radical change of security problem approach.
Legalize the arms and private security guards!
Piracy is “a problem which cannot be fixed without addressing the root causes – and whether you are off Nigeria or Somalia, without criminal prosecutions, an active coastguard, and realistic long-term solution, the pirates will remain and seafarers, vessels, and cargoes will be taken”.
Politicians (national, international and industry), experts, think-tanks, Navies brass and media made such an approach an axiom which doesn’t require any more thinking or analyzing. Whether we’re talking about Somalia piracy, or Nigeria, or Venezuela, the answer is the same – fight the roots by ample criminal prosecutions, and other realistic long-term solutions.
What’s this bullshit about “roots” and “long-term solutions”? There is piracy, and there is shipping, which suffers from criminal acts of the pirates. Criminals kidnap people, rob crews and vessels and steal cargoes, using two factors – their superior physical force, and absolute defenselessness of their victims. Criminals are driven not only by their criminal instincts, but by the defenselessness of their victims as well. That’s why people invented protection.
Either we make the shipping safe by protecting each vessel, or we fight the piracy and the roots. Those two aims are absolutely different, alien to each other.
Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) is working out a set of Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) under which armed guards will respond to violent acts. ISO has developed ISO/PAS 28007:2012 – Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC). But it’s not enough, shipping security requires an International Convention on the use of armed guards, a worldwide recognition of the right of the shipping to defend itself from crime and violence.
Three steps can make shipping safe from piracy:
1. Rules for the Use of Force (RUF).
2. ISO Standards for private maritime security.
3. International Convention legalizing arms and security teams on board of merchant marine vessels worldwide.
Without first two, the third step is impossible. Without the third, first two are as good as useless.