Congress passes bill to safeguard ships in high-risk areas
The US House of Representatives has passed the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, which covers the safety and efficiency of maritime transport.
The bill, also called the Coast Guard Reauthorisation Bill, includes a section called the Piracy Suppression Act, which aims to protect cargo vessels against pirates, especially in the coastal area near Somalia.
Coast Guard Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo said: “Somali pirates have vastly expanded the range of their attacks on merchant vessels.
“But, even more alarmingly, the pirates have dramatically increased the number and viciousness of their attacks in recent months.”
The bill strengthens existing action against piracy, as well as improving training programmes to instruct seafarers on the acceptable use of force against pirates.
They will also include information on high-risk waters, current threats and patterns of pirate attacks, defence tactics and procedures to improve crew survivability if taken hostage.
The bill authorises armed security on vessels carrying cargo for US agencies through high-risk waters. This includes vessels carrying US aid.
In addition, the bill authorises a General Accounting Office report on ways to track ransom payments paid to pirates and options to improve their prosecution.
Source: ifw net