Bill seeks government funded anti-piracy training program for mariners

Mike Schuler
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September 7, 2011

New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) this week introduced a bill to Congress aimed at clearly defining U.S. policy on the surpression of piracy on the high seas and the U.S. Navy’s anti-piracy efforts, specifically in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

Perhaps most notably, the bill calls for a government funded training program for U.S. mariners on the use of force against pirates.

The bill, called the `Piracy Suppression Act of 2011′ states:

`Sec. 51705. Training program for use of force against piracy

`The Secretary of Transportation shall establish a training program for United States mariners on the use of force against pirates. The program shall include–

`(1) information on waters designated as high-risk waters by the Commandant of the Coast Guard;

`(2) information on current threats and patterns of attack by pirates;

`(3) tactics for defense of a vessel, including instruction on the types, use, and limitations of security equipment;

`(4) standard rules for the use of force for self defense as developed by the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating under section 912(c) of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-281; 46 U.S.C. 8107 note), including instruction on firearm safety for crewmembers of vessels carrying cargo under section 55305 of this title; and

`(5) procedures to follow to improve crewmember survivability if captured and taken hostage by pirates.’.

The bill also looks to answer the question “who pays?” when the U.S. Navy gets involved:

Sec. 410. Reimbursement for actions taken to protect foreign-flagged vessels from piracy

`(a) In General- The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating–

`(1) determine the full cost to the United States of each action taken by the United States to protect or defend a vessel that is not documented under the laws of the United States from a pirate attack, including the cost of each action by the United States to deter such attack; and

`(2) seek reimbursement for such cost from the country under the laws of which the vessel for which protection or defense was provided is documented, which shall be credited back to the appropriations charged for such cost.

The fees, however, will be waived if:

   `(1) such country contributes military forces to the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force-151 within 180 days of the action taken;

`(2) such country deploys military forces to the Indian Ocean or Gulf of Aden to deter, prevent, or defend vessels from pirate attack within 180 days of the action taken;

`(3) such country assists in the prosecution or detention of pirates; or

`(4) the President determines it is in the national security interest of the United States to do so.’.

So what do you think?  Should the U.S. set up a government funded anti-piracy training program for mariners?

Link: H.R.2839 — Piracy Suppression Act of 2011 (Introduced in House – IH)

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