No armed guards on ships, says minister

There will be no armed private security guards on Dutch ships sailing the coast of East and West Africa where piracy is rife, defence minister Hans Hillen told parliament on Monday evening.

Hillen was reacting to calls by insurers and ship owners who say if they cannot hire armed guards, ships will be registered under the flags of countries where they can. This would be detrimental to the government as ship owners would pay tax to the country under whose flag they sail.
The Dutch government does not allow ship owners to have armed guards on board, but it does provide marines as protection. However, ship owners and insurers say there are not enough of them.
Hillen says he thinks the ship owners are protesting at the cost of the marines, who cost twice as much as private security guards, say press reports. He will see if the cost can be reduced but can give no guarantee.

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