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Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 35298, tabled on 25 April 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions he has had (a) with his international counterparts and (b) within international organisations on private sector marine vessels conducting armed anti-piracy operations in support of merchant shipping in international waters.

Answered on

4 May 2016

The UK Government has had no discussions with international counterparts on private sector marine vessels conducting deliberate operations against pirate vessels (i.e. 'private navies'). The Government does however discuss the use of Vessel Based Armouries (VBAs) at the International Code of Conduct for Private security in Switzerland and with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). VBAs allow Private Maritime Security Companies to off-load and collect weapons from international waters before leaving and entering the High Risk Area for piracy. The UK Government only permits the use of armed guards on UK flagged vessels operating inside the East Africa/Indian Ocean ‘High Risk Area’ as defined by industry.