Can anyone imagine pirates operating in the Panama Canal? Not likely, since US gunboats would be at the waterway within hours. Fighter planes would arrive sooner.
Alas, the situation is not the same for Panama-flagged vessels sailing in international waters – the world’s largest flagged fleet.
To combat attacks, the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) has now hired the AdvanFort Corporation to conduct counter-piracy operations aboard vessels flying the Panama flag.
The resulting Resolution No 106-26-DGMM is dated February 4, 2013 and was signed by the director general, following an extensive review by the AMP’s technical committee and legal department.
The AMP has also stated that it will be implementing non-lethal weapons for use against pirates that approach vessels with the intention of hijacking them.
The new implementation of non-lethal weapons will be in accordance with approval from the International Maritime Organization, which recommends the use of piping around the vessel to create a wall of water, electrifying the rail and the use of barbed wire.
A company press release from AdvanFort states, “We at AdvanFort are very pleased that the world’s largest flag state has vetted our company and approved our highly-trained operators to protect their ships from piracy attack,” said Captain William H. Watson, president of AdvanFort.
“I want to personally thank Alfonso Castillero, Panama’s Director General of the Merchant Marine, for the professional manner in which this approval was handled.” To facilitate the process, Captain Watson travelled to Panama to meet with Mr. Castillero and with Mrs. Nyxkhari Ardilla, of the AMP’s Maritime Ship Security Department.
This post is also available in: Spanish