Shots fired

Modern PiracyLast year commandos retaking a vessel that had been highjacked by pirates fired several hundred rounds. As their efforts were targeting at the pirates many of these rounds fell on the vessel itself. It is difficult to imagine how the crew felt to be part of such a fire-fight.

In contrast it was reported yesterday that a vessel attacked by six skiffs, each carrying between 3 – 6 pirates, with weapons and ladders spotted was defended by a security team having to only fire a few warning shots. These shots were also aimed away from the vessel being protected.

Much is made of the carriage of security teams on board commercial vessels, and in particular the fact that such teams are armed. Arms on board a commercial vessel is not a natural situation.

However, if we set aside the question of arms on board momentarily, the team on this occasion protected the crew from attack and the ship from being boarded, and probably being taken. This would have left the crew with a choice of several months held in Somalia, or, the likelihood of some form of rescue by an armed military team. In which case more than just a few shots would likely to have been required (that is if military resources are available to undertake such a task).

Apart from protecting the crew, the team also protected the asset, and kept the world’s trade moving.

It is easy to lose sight of why armed security teams are carried on board commercial vessels in the high risk area. It is also easy to forget that, although there may have to be shots fired, this is likely to be better than the alternatives?

Alan Taylor,
Commercial Director,
Spirit Security Services Limited

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