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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Somali Pirates: A "User Pays" Bill in U.S. Congress for US Navy Anti-Piracy Action

This Gun for Hire?
Who should pay for a ship of the United States Navy coming to the aid of a non-U.S. flag merchant ship or fishing vessel or yacht? A bill introduced by New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) in the U.S. House of Representatives poses an answer. in H.R.2839 -- Piracy Suppression Act of 2011 (Introduced in House - IH):

(a) In General- Chapter 20 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`Sec. 410. Reimbursement for actions taken to protect foreign-flagged vessels from piracy

`(a) In General- The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating--
`(1) determine the full cost to the United States of each action taken by the United States to protect or defend a vessel that is not documented under the laws of the United States from a pirate attack, including the cost of each action by the United States to deter such attack; and
`(2) seek reimbursement for such cost from the country under the laws of which the vessel for which protection or defense was provided is documented, which shall be credited back to the appropriations charged for such cost.
`(b) Reimbursements- Reimbursement under this section may be waived if--
`(1) such country contributes military forces to the Combined Maritime Forces' Combined Task Force-151 within 180 days of the action taken;
`(2) such country deploys military forces to the Indian Ocean or Gulf of Aden to deter, prevent, or defend vessels from pirate attack within 180 days of the action taken;
`(3) such country assists in the prosecution or detention of pirates; or
`(4) the President determines it is in the national security interest of the United States to do so.'
Emphasis added. All those flag of convenience countries better check their treasuries or mandate insurance coverage for this sort of "reimbursement."

In economic terms, this bill is designed to take care of the "free rider" problem.

The bill also proposes a government funded training program for U.S. mariners concerning piracy, including:
3) tactics for defense of a vessel, including instruction on the types, use, and limitations of security equipment;
`(4) standard rules for the use of force for self defense as developed by the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating under section 912(c) of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-281; 46 U.S.C. 8107 note), including instruction on firearm safety for crewmembers of vessels carrying cargo under section 55305 of this title
And a criticism of this last provision at posing the question "Do We Really Need Government-Funded Anti-Piracy Training?":
And are we expected to believe that the maritime industry hasn’t, you know, thought to tell crew members about piracy risks? Or, even if the crews are officially kept in the dark by some sort of twisted corporate policy (they aren’t), that they haven’t bothered to look into this piracy stuff on their own? Perhaps a single Google search before leaving port (the Internet can be really, really slow on the high seas)?

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