I just read an article on the New York Times website titled “Rescue Fuels Debate Over Arming Crews.” The article refers to the rash of piracy off the coast of Somalia that has been taking place in the past year, and it questions whether or not tanker crews should be allowed to arm themselves in the face of increasing threats on the seas.
I have to say the article raises some valid points. It says “most ports severely restrict vessels from having any weapons,” and it mentions the U.S. Coast Guard has qualms as well, saying the arms could be used for terrorism. I think it would be difficult for a slow-moving tanker to offload and take on arms between the several stops they make, but with the panic buttons that have been installed in commercial vessels, it would be difficult for a group of terrorists to dock a tanker without port authorities already knowing of their presence.
The article also says an increase of patrols combined with other preventative actions curbed piracy near Indonesia in the 1990s. That would probably be the most effective action without further endangering the lives of tanker crewmen forced to defend themselves and their employers’ cargo.
"Rescue Fuels Debate Over Arming Crews"