It seemed like a simple idea: In the chaos that is Somalia, create a sophisticated, highly trained fighting force that could finally defeat the pirates terrorizing the shipping lanes off the Somali coast. A trainee at a camp in Somalia in October 2010. The camp was run by Saracen International, a South African military firm.
The increased use of armed guards on merchant ships plying the seas off the Horn of Africa has helped sharply reduce the number of successful attacks by Somali pirates. The latest report by the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says 177 incidents were logged by its Piracy Reporting Centre in the first six months of this year, compared with 266 in the same period in 2011.
In the last couple of years, merchant shipping has witnessed the introduction of armed guards on ships, especially those transiting the high risk areas affected by Somalian piracy. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and various national governments advised the shipping community to follow ‘best management practices’.
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.