The Associated Press
Friday, March 23, 2012
Private security firms are storing their guns aboard floating
armories in international waters so ships that want armed antipiracy
guards for East Africa's pirate-infested waters can cut costs and
circumvent laws limiting the import and export of weapons, industry
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 antipirate 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.