The CSS Blog Network

Floating Liabilities? Maritime Armouries, Risks and Solutions

USS Mitscher, US Fifth Fleet/flickr

This article was originally published by Sustainable Security on 2 January, 2015.

The use of security forces to protect merchant vessels from piracy has led to a rise in ‘floating armouries’: vessels that are used for weapons storage, often moored in international waters. This growing trend raises a number of concerns over security, oversight and transparency.

From 2005 onwards, cargo ships traversing the seas off the coast of Somalia into the Gulf of Aden have become targets of maritime piracy. One of the responses has been to station armed guards on the ships, or on support vessels travelling with the ships to protect them. On commercial ships these guards have generally been provided by Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) with weapons owned by the PMSCs themselves or leased from governments or other PMSCs in the region.

PMSCs need to have storage for the weapons when not in use. One option is to store them in land-based armouries, the other is to store them in ‘floating armouries’. A new report  by the Omega Research Foundation commissioned by the Remote Control project examines the issue of floating armouries and offers recommendations for how they could be regulated. » More

Maritime Mercenaries or Innovative Defense? Private Security & the Evolving Piracy Threat

Navy soldiers engaging Pirates. Image: Eric L. Beauregard/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 29 September 2014.

On Sept. 23, the United States joined ReCAAP, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia. The move comes amidst deepening concern about sophisticated piracy attacks in and around the Strait of Malacca, the world’s most trafficked commercial waterway. In addition to growing involvement by governments, private security companies are also joining the effort to suppress Southeast Asian piracy. As John J. Pitney, Jr. and I argue in our new book Private Anti-Piracy Navies: How Warships for Hire are Changing Maritime Security, as pirates’ operations become more refined, so too will the private security schemes to defeat them. » More

Russia and “Elastic Power”: Will the Burgeoning Private Security Industry Lead to Private Military Companies, Too?

Private security guards in Russia.

I’ve just written a short piece for Blouin News on the news that already-relaxed restrictions on the security forces of gas giant Gazprom and oil pipeline corporation Transneft are to be lifted, allowing them increased access to lethal weapons and rules of engagement for their use. The represents a rolling back of the trend during the early Putin years, when the private security sector–which had become pretty much out of control in the 1990s–was reined in dramatically. The days of untrained corporate goons toting assault rifles in Moscow shopping centers are, I’m glad to say, pretty much over, even if the vigilante spirit they embody (in other words, a reluctance to trust the state and its agents to provide reliable, impartial security) is alive and well. The private security industry these days is a dynamic, extensive and growing sector, but also one under rather great legal and regulatory control. » More