Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Armed Security Guards at Sea: Greek Sailor Unions Say "No!"

Reported here and as news at Safety at Sea Weekly:
The Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation announced yesterday that the bill “does not tackle piracy, nor protect seafarers, but instead raises the chances of mishaps and puts seafarers under psychological pressure”.

In a separate announcement, the Masters & Mates’ Union of the Greek Merchant Marine (PEPEN) said: “The content of the bill is unacceptable and leaves a ship’s master and crew exposed to danger.”
Under the proposal, up to six armed guards per ship, acting under the authority of the master, would be allowed on Greek-flagged ships serving routes outside its territorial waters.
There's just no pleasing some people.

Why would there be danger to the sailors? Well, consider this:
Somali pirates released a hijacked palm oil tanker and 21 crew members, but kept four South Koreans as hostages, the ship’s Singapore-based operator said Thursday.
In January, the South Korean military killed eight Somali pirates and captured five others in a raid on a hijacked South Korean-operated cargo ship in the Arabian Sea.

The five captured pirates were taken to South Korea and received long prison terms.
And this:
A self-described pirate in Somalia who gave his name as Bile Hussein said the arrests will lead to "trouble" for Indian sailors and ships.

"They better release them, considering their people traveling in the waters, or we shall jail their people like that," he said. "We are first sending a message to the Indian government of releasing our friends in their hands or else they have to be ready for their citizens to be mistreated in the near future."
Now, extrapolate from those threats to what the pirates are doing.

They have always known that the hostages they hold are one of the few reasons that the pirates have been allowed to survive - fear of them killing the hostage sailors they hold has stayed the armed fist of naval forces (including Marines). So, they reason, if we want to influence the policy makers of the countries who pose a threat to us, we should grab and hold their sailors to provide ourselves with leverage against the delivery of force against us.

The hostages become life insurance and political pawns.

It's a war. A nasty brutish sort of war as run by criminal gangs.

Perhaps the Greek sailors feel they don't want to run any additional risks of being long-term hostages.

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