Wed, Jan 04, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Armed guards on transport, fishing vessels considered

AFP, TAIPEI

Taiwan is considering a plan to place armed guards on board ships that sail in pirate-infested waters, especially off Somalia, officials and media said yesterday.

“The proposal has been under evaluation, but details of how it can be done have not been finalized,” a Ministry of Transportation and Communications official said, declining to give his name.

Industry officials said the proposed measures would not be implemented until an amendment to the law governing guns and firearms, which bars the employment of armed guards on board Taiwanese vessels.

While awaiting the government’s decision, leading shipping firms Evergreen Marine Corp and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp have both already taken steps to protect their vessels.

“Since late last year, our company has adopted special security measures on our ships sailing on some routes,” a Yang Ming official said, without providing details.

The Commercial Times said Yang Ming had hired armed guards from a French company, deploying three on each ship traveling through risky waters near Somalia.

It would be possible for Yang Ming to do this because the ships are registered overseas and therefore not subject to Taiwan’s rules against firearms onboard.

The dangers were highlighted in November when a Taiwanese fishing boat was seized by pirates off eastern Africa. The 28 sailors on the Chin Yi Wen later recaptured their ship from the pirates. Three sailors were slightly hurt.

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