The normally perspicacious Spencer Ackerman of the Danger Room at Wired, posted a story on a British start-up that promises a private navy to protect commercial shipping from pirates (for a jolly fee, of course). However, Ackerman ignores the 800 pound parrot on the pirate’s shoulder: namely, laws restricting the import and export of arms.
The company, Typhon, promises its own armed flotilla, but Ackerman doesn’t explain how it plans on moving this armed flotilla in and out of ports, unless, of course, the flotilla will be a modern day Flying Dutchman, cursed to roam the seas forever.
I’ve discussed this issue in a blog post some time back. Export and import licenses will be needed for Typhon’s private navy to come and go from most ports. And even if a Typhon ship leaving the United States gets an export license, as required, it will be forbidden thereafter to dock in countries, such as China, subject to U.S. arms embargos. And each port of call is likely to require import permits, or in the case of countries that have signed the U.N. Firearms Protocol, transit permits.
So, I guess you might say, that the idea of a private navy to fight pirates is an idea that is better in Wired than in practice.