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Indonesian navy chief sinks sea marshal onboard coal vessels plan

Indonesian navy chief Adm. Ade Supandi has said he is not certain the government’s plan to provide security involving armed military personnel on board coal vessels traveling in areas prone to piracy can be implemented, local media reported.

He said sea security operations for trading vessels is regulated by the IMO, and under current rules, there are articles that prohibit the placement of military personnel on merchant vessels, although some countries allowed the use of weapons on board.

“Actually, the security of merchant vessels sailing on the sea is stipulated in IMO regulations. Several rules don’t allow the presence of military personnel on board, although several countries provide security through the equipping of weapons [for crew members] on board,” Ade was quoted as saying.

Citing the IMO, Ade further said, it was only armed civilian security personnel that were allowed to provide security on merchant vessels. The number of armed security personnel was also limited and monitored tightly, he noted.

Involving military personnel in providing security on merchant vessels would only lead to unhealthy competition among shipping companies. He said one option the government could take to protect Indonesian trading vessels against piracy was to allow the Navy to escort vessels as far as the sea boarder of their destination country, from where an escort from the destination country could be arranged.

Coal boats and other merchant vessels should also take a safe route decided by authorities to avoid acts of piracy, such as ones recently perpetrated by Abu Sayyaf militants on Indonesian vessels in southern Philippine waters.

Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu had previously said the government would enrol the military in providing sea marshals to provide security on coal ships sailing to the Philippines. The Navy would work together with its Philippine counterpart to escort the vessels. He claimed the Philippine government had agreed to allow the Indonesian Military to enter its territory for escort purposes.

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