The shipping industry is using the supply boats that once serviced offshore oil platforms as floating armories, where guns, body armor and security forces await.
Shippers wary of oceangoing pirates want armed guards to protect cargo and crews, but most countries refuse to let armed, private security forces bring guns into port.
The Wall Street Journal reports that cargo shippers, who once considered armed guards a danger, have made an about face thanks to Somali pirate attacks.
“Every month now, thousands of weapons pass through the Indian Ocean and hundreds of security teams rotate on and off ships in the Gulf of Oman. A similar trade goes on in the Red Sea and off Sri Lanka,” the Journal reports.
However, the rise in armory ships has raised concerns. There is no official record of how many of the ships exist or who operates them, and there is no regulation of the vessels. And critics say the weapons caches could be targets for pirates or terrorists.