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MSC agrees revised piracy guidelines, says no to armed crew

London: The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee has agreed revised guidance on combating piracy at its latest meeting in London, writes Anderimar Shipping News. While settling on fresh advice for avoiding pirate attacks and on surviving as a hostage, the MSC has come out strongly against arming crew, and against the carriage of firearms in general.

"The MSC agreed that flag States should strongly discourage the carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship," the IMO said in a statement. "Seafarers are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great. Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker. Carriage of firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods."

"The use of unarmed security personnel is a matter for individual shipowners, companies, and ship operators to decide. The carriage of armed security personnel, or the use of military or law-enforcement officers (duly authorized by the government of the flag state to carry firearms for the security of the ship) should be subject to flag state legislation and policies and is a matter for the flag State to authorize, in consultation with ship owners, companies and ship operators."  [17/06/09]

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