View Poll Results: Should Commericial Shipping Be Allowed to Self-Arm?

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  • Yes

    33 97.06%
  • No.

    1 2.94%
  • No, escort ships through hazardous areas in convoys.

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Thread: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

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    Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    EDITORIAL: An anti-pirate policy that worksMerchant ships need guns to fight pirates. Seven months ago, Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama and held its captain hostage. Pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama again this week but were repulsed because the Maersk Shipping Line put armed guards on its ships.

    Pirates successfully attacked another unarmed ship on Monday, leaving 28 members of its crew dead. On Tuesday, 36 crew members of a Spanish ship were released only after pirates were paid a $3.3 million ransom. But when the pirates got within 300 yards of the Maersk Alabama, the ship tried evasive maneuvers and its security team successfully engaged in small-arms fire. Vice Admiral Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said the actions of the Maersk Alabama were following the maritime industry's "best practices."

    ....

    It is not practical to depend on the Navy to protect merchant shipping. Aside from the enormous cost, Navy ships cannot be everywhere all the time, and they generally arrive on the scene after an initial action has taken place. It is far better for merchant ships to defend themselves, but a major obstacle exists. Many foreign ports do not allow armed vessels to dock. The U.S. government can help by using diplomatic channels to convince other nations to allow entry to lightly armed ships.

    Gun-control proponents keep claiming that banning guns will make people safer, but we suspect that as more ships are armed, fewer will be attacked. What gun controllers refuse to admit is that gun-free zones are a magnet for criminals, terrorists and even pirates.
    Well, should international law allow merchant ships to carry small arms, up to and including RPG's or similar weapons sufficient to repel pirates attacking from small craft?

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    I would tend to favor the idea of Q ships over arming merchant ships. Most merchant ships are not manned by people trained to be effective with the armament, and I don't think they have the crew size needed to be effective at repelling pirates. I am not against the idea in theory, I just think practically it would not work well.
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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Does the law currently ban such protections? Was the Alabama violating the law?

    Regardless I think the Alabama handled the situation well. Nonlethal armaments and trained guards with conventional arms to back that seems reasonable to me

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    Does the law currently ban such protections? Was the Alabama violating the law?
    The editorial says that some ports won't allow "armed" vessels entry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kernel Sanders View Post
    Regardless I think the Alabama handled the situation well. Nonlethal armaments and trained guards with conventional arms to back that seems reasonable to me
    What's wrong with shooting a man threatening you with a machine gun, and killing him?

    I see no moral dilemma there.

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    I would tend to favor the idea of Q ships over arming merchant ships. Most merchant ships are not manned by people trained to be effective with the armament, and I don't think they have the crew size needed to be effective at repelling pirates. I am not against the idea in theory, I just think practically it would not work well.
    How much training does it take to be "effective" with an assualt rifle or shoulder fired missiles?

    We're not talking abou the average American high school illiterate graduate, we're talking about crew trained and experienced in the operation of complex shipboard machinery who would have a strong interest in learning the proper operation of those weapons because it's their own lives that depend on their doing it right.

    And you seem to be forgetting the deterrent effect. The pirates would not know the readiness of the crew of any particular ship and be more hesitant to attack in the face of the unknown after a few of them are blown out of the water by determined crews.

    It's certainly a lot more cost effective to let the shipping lines arm their vessels if they wish than to try any other military alternative.

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to. It's their decision whether it's more important to be armed to deal with pirates or to be able to enter ports that don't allow armed ships.
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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Quote Originally Posted by molten_dragon View Post
    I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to. It's their decision whether it's more important to be armed to deal with pirates or to be able to enter ports that don't allow armed ships.
    You making a career out of deliberately missing the point of any discussion you join?

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scarecrow Akhbar View Post
    How much training does it take to be "effective" with an assualt rifle or shoulder fired missiles?

    We're not talking abou the average American high school illiterate graduate, we're talking about crew trained and experienced in the operation of complex shipboard machinery who would have a strong interest in learning the proper operation of those weapons because it's their own lives that depend on their doing it right.

    And you seem to be forgetting the deterrent effect. The pirates would not know the readiness of the crew of any particular ship and be more hesitant to attack in the face of the unknown after a few of them are blown out of the water by determined crews.

    It's certainly a lot more cost effective to let the shipping lines arm their vessels if they wish than to try any other military alternative.
    The deterrent factor is why I favor Q ships. If pirates do not know if they are approaching a merchant, or an armed warship that looks like a merchant, I would think it would act as a deterrent.
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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    The main problem is that it opens to door for abuse. I wouldn't mind if ships traveling near Somali wanted to arm themselves. The problem is when Iranian "merchantmen" armed to the teeth start circling around the Hormuz straight, or play cat and mouse with U.S. warships. I'd rather use soldiers and Q-ships rather than open that can of worms.

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    Re: Should US Merchant Ships Be Armed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    The deterrent factor is why I favor Q ships. If pirates do not know if they are approaching a merchant, or an armed warship that looks like a merchant, I would think it would act as a deterrent.
    Or, if they were approaching a merchant that's armed but they don't know it, that would be a deterrent.

    And the minimal cost of arming freighters can be borne by the shipping companies and thus sparing the expense to the taxpayers of maintaining a massive fleet in one of the smellier armpits of the world.

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