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CURRENT ISSUE

ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

ROYAL NAVY PHOTOGRAPH

June 2, 2009

Royal Navy burns pirate boat

With insufficient evidence to directly link them to a specific attack, the Royal Navy yesterday released ten pirate suspects, but burned one of their two skiffs.

The Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Portland detected, intercepted and boarded the two suspicious skiffs while conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden as part of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Task Force 151.

In coordination with a Spanish maritime patrol aircraft, HMS Portland's crew identified, pursued and subsequently boarded the suspicious vessels.

Portland's boarding team, consisting of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel, conducted the boarding. The ship's embarked Lynx helicopter, equipped with a machine gun and snipers, provided cover throughout the operation, while the boarding team was inserted using the ship's armed rigid inflatable boats.

The skiffs, with ten people aboard, were found to be equipped with extra barrels of fuel, grappling hooks and a cache of weapons that included rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and ammunition.

Though this was deemed insufficient evidence to detain the group, they were disarmed and released.

Portland destroyed one of the skiffs and confiscated all the weapons

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