I saw this on gCaptain this morning: - a good site for maritime news.

Two Indian fishermen have been shot by the crew of an Italian ship, because the crew feared the fishermen were pirates. Although any seaman would understand the crew's fears and their desire to take proactive action against being captured, this is a very sad outcome, and shows another negative side of the piracy problem. The incident has caused a diplomatic problem between India and Italy that may get worse before it gets better.

It's probable that the fishermen were not monitoring their radio or not paying attention - sometimes, regrettably, the case on fishing vessels. Their failure to answer alarmed the Italian crew so that they fired on the fishing boat.

The well-intentioned - but marginally effective - international naval response hasn't solved the piracy problem, and no political solution is in sight in the Horn of Africa. Terrorism continues to muddle the picture. So use of deadly force by ships crews, or hired guards, is increasingly seen as one of the few effective measures a ship can take to avoid capture.

But as this sad incident illustrates, deadly force, once deployed, can't be recalled. These two fishermen are gone forever! 

Davy Crockett, a perhaps mythical American frontiersman, put it like this: "Make sure you're right, then go ahead." Or so I was taught as a kid. Whether Davy really said those words, that's good advice for those contemplating use of deadly force.

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