British naval officer advocates mercenaries to fight piracy
The British Royal Navy commander in the Gulf of Aden told The Telegraph that merchant ships should start adding mercenaries and visual deterrents to ships to ward off pirate attacks.
The newspaper reported Tuesday that Commodore Keith Winstanley said the situation has gotten so dire in the waters off of Somalia that commercial vessels should be armed. Among the visual deterrents he suggested were mounted heavy machine guns.
“This coalition headquarters is advocating that as an option,” he said. “There is a very active debate at the moment about whether or not the international shipping community employs armed security detachments. It is a measure we are encouraging people to at least consider. This has got to be a business decision and its going to cost money.”
The report said a coalition of naval ships from five countries has deterred 15 attacks in recent weeks, but that the rise in piracy has been staggering.
“We have never seen as many ships hijacked or crews held hostage,” Winstanley said. “Last year they went for large fishing dhows or small coastal vessels, well now they are attacking and seizing vessels over 70,000 tons.”