The British government has finally agreed to allow British-flagged vessels to carry armed guards to protect them from pirate attacks. Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron announced that he was allowing this measure in order to protect vessels from pirate attacks, especially off the coast of Somalia.
According to the British government, no vessel that has armed security guards on board had been taken hostage by pirates.
Currently, there are at least 200 British-flagged vessels that frequently sail in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia. The government estimates that at least 100 of them are likely to apply for a license to have armed guards on board. Under the plans, the Home Secretary will have the power to license armed guards on vessels.
However, there will be restrictions on the licensing. Armed guards will only be allowed on vessels that are sailing in pirate-infested waters like those off the Somali coastline, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden.
This is likely to be a highly controversial move, because there are still a lot of reservations about the use of armed guards on vessels. Some countries have made it clear that they will not allow armed guards on vessels in their waters. For instance, Egypt has already made it clear that it will not allow armed guards on any vessel that travels through the Suez Canal.
Additionally, maritime piracy lawyers also have concerns about an escalation of violence between vessels and pirates using heavier weapons. Pirates are likely to respond to armed vessels with greater firepower, and this is likely to place crewmembers at great risk.