Swedish ships take up arms to combat pirates

Swedish commercial shipping firm Wallenius has employed armed security staff to police its fleet to help combat the risk posed by pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

Swedish ships take up arms to combat pirates

In April the government launched an inquiry into the issue of whether Swedish vessels could make use of armed guards to protect themselves.

But following its own internal investigation, Wallenius has decided to act to hire security staff, armed with assault rifles, to help protect ships as they pass the horn of Africa.

“This is no development which we would have liked to see, but we have unfortunately felt forced to act,” said Peter Jodin, maritime safety manager at the shipping company, to Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme.

The Swedish Shipowners’ Association (Sveriges Redareförening) expressed their support for Wallenius’ position on Friday.

“This method is unfortunately the best available and I fully understand that they have done so,” said association president Håkan Friberg.

Friberg added that security matters are currently a decision for the shipping lines themselves.

“It’s entirely up to the shipping companies today, they make an assessment based on the safety of the crew and the security of cargo owners,” he said.

The association changed position on the issue last winter following a series of brutal attacks on vessels passing the coast of Somalia, choosing to align themselves with companies wanting to hire armed security forces.

The issue was at the same time placed under review by the government and infrastructure minister Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd described the matter as a priority, but since then there has been no clarity on the matter.

“We have not received any clear answers to the questions we have posed so far,” Håkan Friberg said.

Rival Swedish shipping line, Stena Bulk, began deploying armed guards on vessels entering the hazardous area over six months ago.

“We chose early on to do so and were among the first shipping companies in the world to take the decision,” said Stena Bulk CEO Ulf Ryder.

As soon as a vessel is set to enter a sensitive area, security personnel are dispatched to the ship.

“Much like a load being placed on board,” Ryder explained.

Ulf Ryder said that to date its security staff have not been called upon to use their weapons.

“The ships are also equipped with barbed wire and large signs that state ‘Armed Response’ in Somali, in other words that we have weapons on board.”

Stena Bulk’s vessels are all foreign flagged.

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Swedish citizen appointed next prime minister of Somalia

A Swedish-Somali engineer has been named the new prime minister of Somalia after his predecessor was ousted by a no-confidence vote.

Swedish citizen appointed next prime minister of Somalia
Mohamed Hussein Roble, centre, came to Sweden in 1992 and got his citizenship five years later. Photo: Somali Presidents' Office
Mohamed Hussein Roble came to Sweden in 1992, shortly after the armed coup that thrust the country into its long civil war. He became a Swedish citizen five years later. 
In 2000, he gained his masters in Environmental Technology and Sustainable Infrastructure from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. 
Most recently, he has been working for the International Labour Organisation in Nairobi, Kenya. 
Roble's appointment was announced by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Friday, with Abdinur Mohamed, his deputy chief of staff tweeting out a picture of the new prime minister on Friday. 
The appointment still needs to be confirmed by a vote of country's parliament. 
In a statement, President Farmajo called on Roble to “immediately form a capable government that will lead the country to elections and make significant efforts to consolidate security gains, rebuild the armed forces, develop infrastructure, expand basic services.”