Monday, September 10, 2012

Stowage of Arms Put the Ocean Atlas at Risk

Mossberg 12 gauge Shotgun (Photo by K.C.)
The U.S. flagged  M/V Ocean Atlas was delayed in the port of Maracaibo, Venezuela for 12 days for issues related to arms carried aboard for anti-piracy.

Weapons are used by security teams in  areas that are at high risk for piracy. These weapons  are left on board the ship after transit of high risk waters even after the security teams disembarks  to avoid the expense and hassles related to the transfer of weapons to and from the vessel.

The problem with using the ship for storage for weapons outside piracy waters is apparent in the case of the Ocean Atlas. On-board stowage of  weapons puts the captain, crew and vessel at risk and  places  the vessel and crew at  mercy of  port authorities  and government officials.

Aside from the risk of delay, having to clear weapons though customs  port authorities  of various ports  is a hassle. Port officials require documents, inventories etc  and frequently demand  to see and count weapons upon arrival and again upon departure.

In my last post I suggested that it would be better to remove weapons and ammunition at the same key points where the teams are picked up and dropped off now, Port Suez, Fujairah, Galle and Durban.

Governments involved should  set up convenient armories  at key points and eliminate costly bureaucratic obstacle to the transfer of weapons ashore so ships are not unnecessarily put  at risk by  port officials in ports of call outside high risk areas where weapons are not needed.

K.C.

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