A retired Navy captain who now serves as an analyst says arming the civilians who run freight ships through the waters offshore from Somalia would allow them to defend themselves and fix much of the pirate problem.

Crew members from the recently attacked Maersk Alabama returned today to the United States and told reporters, “All we had was knives. They had AK-47s.”

But retired U.S. Navy Capt. Chuck Nash, who also has served as an analyst for Fox News, said the right of the crew members to defend themselves – even with force – needs to be established firmly.

His comments came in an interview with Greg Corombos of Radio America/WND. The audio of the interview has been embedded here:

Nash suggested the shipping companies need to “get out from under the nebulous conditions that exist today, where they are afraid from a legal perspective to arm their crews.”

“It comes down to the inherent right to self-defense,” he said. “We have to arm these merchant marines.”

He explained the U.S. Navy, and ships from other nations, simply cannot patrol the millions of square miles in the ocean.

He said a second significant move would be to “start imposing limitations on where these pirates operate.”

The pirates initially worked within a few miles of the coast because they were in open-hulled fishing boats. Then they moved into large trawlers, he said, and that greatly expanded their coverage.

“Therefore what we need to do is roll up that process, starting with getting the rules of engagement for our Navy to take out those mother ships, squeeze them back up against the coastline, which automatically makes the job of the military easier,” he said.

According to Reuters, the crew of the Maersk Alabama, which was seized last week, says President Obama needs to tackle the issue.

Chief Mate Shane Murphy said, “It’s time for us to step in and put an end to this crisis.”

The report said the crew returned to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on a charter flight.

Capt. Richard Phillips, who was held hostage by the pirates for several days before the U.S. Navy shot his captors and freed him, returned to the U.S. separately.


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