The government is opening the way for UK-registered vessels will be able to employ armed guards to defend themselves against Somali pirates following an increase in the number of attacks against vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden in recent years.
Shipping minister Mike Penning said: ” Modern pirates are dangerous, organised criminals who have shown they are not shy of using violence to achieve their goals. We have not taken this decision lightly. It is clear that we must offer those flying the Red Ensign every opportunity to ensure the safety of their crews and vessels.
“By allowing the use of armed guards in a structured, legal framework we can move to a system where ship owners can provide an adequate deterrent against this scourge on the maritime industry.”