Hi Chola, thanks for your questions earlier today.
Firstly, we only transport weapons because they are attached to the ship – they are what makes a Royal Navy ship able to do the job we do.
Britain’s relies on the sea (and the ability of ships to move around the world freely) to keep the economy running. Our cars running (the majority of fuel in the UK arrives by sea) and allows you to buy food and other goods (like Cars, TVs and clothing) which aren’t made or grown in Britain. 95% of global maritime trade passes through just nine chokepoints around the world – they are areas vulnerable to attack. That’s where we come in – one of our main jobs is to maintain security at sea and preserve a free, safe and lawful use of the high seas. Stopping piracy is part of that.
There is also the human cost to consider – when ships get captured, they take the crews hostage and their lives are put at risk.
Ok, so that’s what we do. How we do it and who we work with is another really important part of that. We work closely with lots of other countries in the Middle East particularly (that’s because that is an area of the world that can sometimes be unstable (an example of this is in the news today with what is happening in Syria).
As for the ethical issues: We follow some strict rules to make sure our Weapon and Sensor systems are safe (aside from the guns, our sensors emit radiation which can harm people if they were to get too close).
We have them mostly for our own safety, all of the weapon systems onboard are for us to be able to protect ourselves (when we were doing counter piracy in the Indian Ocean earlier this year, pirates tried to attack another Navy ship). Weapons do have the ability to be used for lethal means, but we are not in the business of using them very often, and never unless there is a danger to life.