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Monday, December 18, 2017

IMO’s MSC guidelines for private security companies

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its ninetieth session (16 to 25 May 2012) agreed to develop guidance for private maritime security companies (see WN 21/2012). The MSC guidance is intended to complement existing guidance, and further assist policy development at national level with the aim of facilitating greater harmonisation of policies at an international level regarding the issue of private armed security on board ships.

 

The existing Interim Guidance, which is for private maritime security companies providing privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the High Risk Area, was just recently released by IMO and is set out in the annex of MSC.1/Circ.1443.

 

This Interim Guidance should be read in conjunction with the recently updated Revised Interim Guidance set out in MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.2 as Revised interim guidance to shipowners, ship operators and shipmasters on the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the High Risk Area.

 

Consequential amendments will also be made to Circulars 1406 and 1408. These will be forwarded once finalised and will be titled as follows: MSC.1/Circ.1406/Rev.2 Revised interim recommendations for flag states regarding the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the High Risk Area; and MSC.1/Circ.1408/Rev.1 on Revised interim recommendations for port and coastal states regarding the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the High Risk Area.

 

The Interim Guidance MSC.1-Circ.1443 is welcome guidance and will be a help to any shipowners wishing to contract armed guards on their vessels. It appears that we now have a situation where we have close to three hundred companies offering the services of armed guards, and it is believed that over 50% of vessels are now utilising armed guards.

 

There is concern that such rapid growth may have led to varying standards of service and operation with this new industry, so the proposed guidance should help ensure consistent standards across the board.

 

Contact: John Boreman