The problem of piracy has brought an overwhelming international response to the issue. For the most part, international military efforts and the efforts of private security contractors have greatly reduced the risk of attacks.
This increased presence of weapons and military has caused some unforeseen issues in the regulation of international waters. Port regulations in the territorial waters of coastal nations often prevent ships from calling if they have weapons on board. To circumvent this, many private-security firms are investing in floating armories where they can stash weapons once they come in from the sea.
Unfortunately, these armories themselves have raised concerns. Because they have only begun to become prevalent recently, any countries are wary that because of lack of regulation, these useful hubs could cause problems.
Because of the international crisis that piracy presented to the global shipping community, the number of private maritime security firms has skyrocketed in recent years. While this growth is good for the industry, it has brought with it some unscrupulous and shady firms. The reckless way these companies operate endangers the entire industry, as they risk drawing international ire due to costly mistakes.
The risk that many lawmakers see in the improper maintenance of these armories is that, if subject to an attack by pirates, they could wind up doing more harm than good. The armories are well-stocked, and could potentially provide these burgeoning organized crime networks with an influx of high-tech and destructive weaponry.
One company, AdvanFort, has provided an alternative to using these potentially risky islands in the ocean. The company has begun to roll out what it calls “operator support vessels” or OSV. The network of ships, which are capable of long maritime journeys, operate throughout the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in key shipping areas.
The OSV carry fully-equipped armed guards, and are able to meet up with merchant vessels right along their route in order to drop off security personnel. The OSV network strategically encompasses entire shipping lanes so vessels do not have to remain stationary when waiting for security.
The OSV network doesn’t have to worry about the fate of floating armories, which is very much in question– companies from the United Kingdom cannot make use of them, and soon those in the United States will likely be unable to do so as well.
Unlike floating armories, OSV are not rented out for any security company to stash their weapons aboard. They only carry authorized, highly-vetted personnel that are skilled at what they do. AdvanFort is making use of a very clever way for private security companies to stay profitable, and keep their costs low so that merchant vessels can afford their services.