Norwegian ships may be able to arm against pirates after all

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The Norwegian government is reconsidering a ban against weapons on board ships in its international registry. That means vessels may be able to arm themselves after all, to ward off pirate attacks.

The attacks have become increasingly common in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. Several Norwegian shipowners with vessels registered outside of Norway already have taken up arms. A large tanker in the fleet of Bermuda-based Frontline, controlled by Norwegian shipowner John Fredriksen, narrowly avoided a piracy attack last week.

The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association has been urging the government to allow arms on board and now Trade Minister Trond Giske seems to be heeding the call. “This involves the security of the crew members,” Giske told reporters late last week. “In some situations, weapons are unfortunately necessary.”

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that Giske will push for weapons allowance although the Foreign Ministry, run by Giske’s Labour Party fellow Jonas Gahr Støre, is opposed. Current law only allows the military and police to carry arms. A proposal to end the ban on vessels is expected to go out for hearing, according to Dagsavisen, with a decision due by the end of April.

Views and News staff