Mariner self defense bill introduced
A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at helping mariners defend themselves in piracy attacks.
The U.S. Mariner and Vessel Protection Act (H.R. 2984) was introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., the ranking Republican on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.
'Our merchant marine fleet is increasingly under attack from unlawful individuals and rogue groups that seek to disrupt commerce, seize U.S. and foreign crews, and instill fear on international waters,' LoBiondo said. 'It is only appropriate that our fleets be legally allowed to defend themselves from these violent encounters. This common-sense legislation is a necessary step in empowering U.S.-flagged vessels to fully protect their crews and cargo.'
The bill directs the Coast Guard to establish standards for when a merchant mariner on a U.S.-flag merchant vessel can use force against an attacker. Any mariner using force within those standards, and the owner, operator or master of any vessels would be exempt from liability in U.S. courts as a result of that use of force.
The bill also directs the United States to negotiate international agreements through the International Maritime Organization to provide similar exemptions from liability in other countries for the use of force by mariners and vessel owners, operators and masters.