This OpEd was on MarEx this morning and provides some wild ideas and food for thought in my opinion.
I for one would rather keep my merchant ship designation versus enemy combatant should a war requiring this kind of shenanigans ever touch off. Something like this, even implemented on a small scale, would have the potential to make every merchant ship under that flag an immediate target of interest. As it has been historically, the fleet would already be a target to stem the flow of supplies to the war zone but the presence of major weapons systems onboard would make the ship less of a target of opportunity and more of a target of necessity. The days of the liberty ships with deck guns to fight off surfaced submarines are over. The weapon that kills a ship nowadays will come with no warning at supersonic speeds from over the horizon on the surface or of such magnitude as a torpedoe below the surface to break the keel in half with one blow.
I also have trouble believing that any of the multinational shipping companies that currently charter to MSC would want their name or house flag associated with this. These aren’t American companies that are running ultra large container ships after all. Every ship painted robins egg blue would be grouped in the same basket and that’s a lot of ships.