Posts Tagged floating armories

Martime Security: ’20 Floating Armories’ In The Red Sea, Gulf Of Aden And Indian Ocean

About 20 ships stocked with assault rifles and other small arms as well as ammunition, body armour and night vision goggles are scattered around the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the EU naval force has confirmed.

It is not perfect, but floating armories are what companies have had to turn to in order to accomplish the task. Where as I agree that some standard should be applied to how these armories function, on the other hand, thanks to this practice, ‘armed guards on boats’ has become a success. We are getting closer to achieving ‘Expulsis Piratis–Restituta Commercia’.

As for these armories being vulnerable to attack? Why would they? The operators of these vessels have every interest in the world to protect their precious and lethal cargo–and they have the tools to do that. If a pirate group wants to take on one of these floating armories, they will have to contend with the idea that the vessel is armed. But either way, some sort of standard for the defense and operation of these armories would be a good call.

I also was not aware of how many of these things were out there, and thanks to this article, that was identified. –Matt


Piracy fears over ships laden with weapons in international waters
Private security companies rely on unregulated ‘floating armouries’ in Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean
By Oscar Rickett
10 January 2013
Private security companies guarding ships against Somali pirates are increasingly storing their weapons on so-called “floating armouries” in international waters, to avoid arms smuggling laws when they dock in ports.
About 20 ships stocked with assault rifles and other small arms as well as ammunition, body armour and night vision goggles are scattered around the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the EU naval force has confirmed.

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Maritime Security: Piracy Fighters Use Floating Armories

There are between 10 and 12 ships operating as floating armories at any one time. About half a dozen are located in the Red Sea, three off the United Arab Emirates and a couple off the island nation of Madagascar, said Thomas Jakobsson of Sea Marshals Ltd.
“Many companies are too small to be able to comply with regulations. It costs a lot of money,” he said. His company only used floating armories licensed by the Djibouti government and flew the flag of landlocked Mongolia, he said. He believed most of the rest were not operating legally, he said.

This is some interesting reportage on floating armories. It is a reality of maritime security operations out there and it is yet another option–versus buying the weapons and throwing them overboard before coming into port. Or having to deal with the myriad of confusing and conflicting laws of the various ports and countries. Arms on the high seas is a very touchy thing.

My concern with the practice of floating armories is the security of these vessels. Who regulates how this is to be accomplished? We are basically depending upon that vessel and it’s crew of protecting that cache of weapons, and hopefully all parties involved are taking their job seriously? Imagine a pirate force or terrorist group purposely attacking such a vessel in order to take those weapons by force?

On the other hand, it is within the best interest of that floating armory to secure their vessel. They also have plenty of weapons to do such a thing. It is the ultimate ‘armed guards on boats’. lol

As to the legality of such a thing? This would be another great use for the Letter of Marque. Or just call it a license, and the flagged vessel would receive a license from their sponsoring country for this kind of activity. Throw in a bond and some rules/laws to operate by, and now we would have some accountability here.

Another idea is to just use the military for this. If a country assigns specific naval units to assist in this matter, as well as do their anti-piracy thing, then we can have some government control over the distribution of weapons.

These military floating armories would also be contributing greatly to the anti-piracy mission, because they would be ensuring that functioning weapons and ammunition are actually going into the hands of competent guard forces. A naval armory could be used to check licenses, competencies, bonds, etc. before issuing weapons. Hell, a shooting test and zeroing could be done on a military vessel, much like how infantry units do their thing on vessels. They could also hand off crucial intelligence, procedures, or even escorts to these companies, depending upon the routes they take and their mission. It would be an excellent public/private partnership. Something to think about as we navigate this stuff. –Matt


Piracy fighters use floating armories
By Katharine Houreld
March 22, 2012
Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating armories in international waters so ships that want armed anti-piracy guards for East Africa’s pirate-infested waters can cut costs and circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry officials say.
Companies and legal experts say the operation of the armories is a “legal gray area” because few, if any, governments have laws governing the practice. Some security companies have simply not informed the governments of the flag their ship is flying, industry officials said.
Some members of the private security sector are urging governments and industry leaders to impose standards on the unchecked practice of storing weapons offshore to equip anti-pirate forces off Somalia’s coast.
Storing guns on boats offshore really took off as a business last year. Britain — where many of the operators are from — is investigating the legality of the practice, which has received little publicity outside of shipping industry circles.
Floating armories have become a viable business in the wake of increased security practices by the maritime industry, which has struggled for years to combat attacks by Somali pirates. But those in the industry say the standards vary widely.

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