“Floating armories” on the increase in anti-piracy efforts
In what is being referred to as a “legal gray area,” private security firms for hire are reportedly engaging in an anti-piracy tactic that is producing “floating armories” of weaponry in the waters off East Africa, the world’s piracy hot spot.
The Associated Press reports that few, if any, governments have legal jurisdiction over the growing practice of using floating armories, such as tug boats, to cut costs, store firearms and evade stricter regulations.
Several of the private security companies the A.P. interviewed said countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen are increasingly sensitive over foreigners bringing in weapons since the Arab Spring uprisings started last year.
Conditions on the floating armories reportedly run the gamut of more well-run operations, to situations where weapons are poorly stored and crew are sometimes forced to sleep on the deck in order to make room for the firepower that is being used with more frequency against pirates, or suspected pirates, such as with the recent case of Italian marines mistakenly shooting two Indian fishermen.
The boom in global piracy, particularly off Somalia, has reportedly accelerated faster than the regulatory environment and the only country that has jurisdiction over the armories at sea is the one whose flag is flown from that vessel.
"There's lots of calls — particularly from the shipping industry — for there to be more regulation," said Adjoa Anyimadu, a piracy expert at British think tank Chatham House.