Royal Navy sources said commanding officers had been given the power to destroy equipment used by pirates – including sinking their vessels.
A recent escalation in piracy in the lawless waters off the coast of Somalia has involved a series of high-profile raids, including the seizure of the MV Faina carrying a cargo of tanks and weapons.
A US-led international fleet Combined Task Force 150, including the British frigate HMS Northumberland, is already patrolling the Gulf of Aden.
In a Commons written answer, Mr Ainsworth told shadow foreign secretary William Hague yesterday: 'The government's stance on piracy has recently been reviewed.
'This has resulted in a move to a more proactive posture whereby Royal Navy units in the region will actively seek out pirates, and we have issued them with more robust guidance to deal with any pirates encountered.'
Previously, commanding officers could only engage pirates if they caught them in the act and were not allowed to destroy their weapons or equipment.
A navy source said: 'The UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea does not permit them to destroy equipment.
'What the UK guidance will do is allow commanding officers to do that.'
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Reported as Navy is given new power to destroy pirate vessels: