Kenya: World Leaders to Consider Dangers of Using Armed Guards on Board Vessels

Marine safety concern, BCB International, has warned world leaders to consider the dangers of using armed guards on board vessels, which may have tragic and unintended consequences.

The leaders are due to meet next month in Kenya at an anti-piracy conference.

Some commentators believed that the use of armed personnel could spark a dangerous escalation of violence, the company said.

BCB International’s marine projects manager, Jonathan Delf, said: “We call on world leaders to consider, in detail, the potential dangers associated with the use of armed guards on commercial ships. With lethal armed guards comes increased responsibility for the lives of a ship’s crew.

“Ultimately the use of lethal force should be selected as a ‘last resort’ because it could lead to an escalation of violence, which can have tragic unintended consequences.

”Indeed, in his evidence to the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Select Committee the respected Dr McCafferty, head of counter-terrorism and UK operational policy at the UK Ministry of Defence, said; ‘Like everywhere else, the more guns there are around, although there is a deterrent effect, you also have the increased opportunity or potential for the wrong people to be shot.’”

“We believe that new non-lethal protective measures like air pressurised launchers can help to create a layered and proportional defence around a vulnerable vessel. In a situation where a piracy attack is imminent, responsible shipping companies should use these new non-lethal measures first in an attempt to ward off the pirates before resorting to guns because it will show they acted reasonably and proportionally,” he concluded.

UK-based BCB has been a prime contractor to the UK Ministry of Defence and the Marine Industry for over 50 years.

World Maritime News Staff, January 6, 2012; Image: SeaSecurity