Interim guidance to private maritime security companies (PMSCs) agreed by IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at latest meeting in London
A special high-level segment of the MSC saw an intense debate, over the first day and a half of the Committee’s session, on how the international community should deal with issues related to the deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships and the carriage of arms on board.
Following further debate during a working group, the MSC agreed Interim Guidance to private maritime security companies (PMSC) providing contracted armed security personnel on board ships in the High Risk Area.
The guidance covers:
• PMSC Professional Certification, including the recommendation that PMSC should seek certification with relevant national and international private maritime security service standards when these are established;
• PMSC Company requirements, including the recommendation that PMSC should establish procedures to provide maritime security services to ship owners and ship operators and comply with all relevant legal requirements;
• Management, including recommendations on selection, vetting and training of personnel for a PCASP team;
• Deployment considerations, addressing the specific aspects of PCASP deployment and the role of the PMSC in ensuring efficient and successful deployments, including communications with the ship owner or operator, and including recommendations relating to management of firearms and ammunition from embarkation to disembarkation and use of force.
The MSC agreed that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) would be best placed to develop international standards for PMSCs based on the IMO-developed guidance and with relevant IMO liaison and participation in the ISO process for standards’ development.
The MSC also agreed to consequential revisions to the interim guidance for shipowners, ship operators and shipmasters; flag States; and port and coastal States on the use of PCASP on board ships to counter Somali-based piracy, to reflect the new guidance to PMSCs.
The MSC also approved interim guidance for flag States on measures to prevent and mitigate Somalia-based piracy, which lists recommended practices that flag States are encouraged to apply, taking into account their own circumstances and subject to their national law, in order to maximize their efforts to implement counter-piracy measures.