Private maritime security service company Protection Vessels International (PVI), part of Protection Group International, announced that it has achieved accreditation to deploy armed guards on German flagged vessels. Applicable from December 1, 2013, the updated German regulations are more stringent than any other existing standard and go beyond ISO 28000/28007 certification, which is currently being piloted.
The German regulations ensure private maritime security companies' (PMSCs') operating procedures are comprehensive, well documented and executed safely. They require companies not only to demonstrate due process, but also to evaluate the implementation of those processes. The emphasis is on service provision and the safety aspects whilst undertaking operations.
PVI - the largest provider of armed security to the German marketplace, with the greatest operational footprint of any PMSC within high-risk areas - fulfilled the additional training in-house and has employed independent German legal experts to deliver the German legal training requirements. Approximately 100 PVI operatives are now fully qualified to operate on all German flagged vessels.
PVI, which will not increase its rates to German flagged shipowners and operators, was asked to, amongst other things, submit standard operating procedures and company documentation for scrutiny by the authorities. Emphasis is placed on training standards, including obtaining knowledge and skills relevant to the German public. This includes comprehensive knowledge of German civil and criminal laws - including the extent of the right of self-defense - crisis handling, de-escalation techniques, the secure handling of weapons and equipment, weapons law and foreign trade law of Germany, and of relevant harbor and coastal states. In addition, they require the PMSC's Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) to conduct and evidence regular firearms training.
Eric Conway, managing director, PVI, commented, "Whilst there have been questions over the necessity for such thoroughness and complexity in the German regulations, what is being set out to achieve is obvious; mitigation of risk in an area where the stakes are high. The German Government should be praised for its attempt to not only regulate this maturing industry but ultimately keep seafarers safe."
Conway concluded, "What the industry continues to need are clearer boundaries and standards. This, coupled with an ethos of safety and integrity, is central to securing the confidence and respect of the shipping market, not least so for those shipowners and operators who understand the tangible value attached to reputation. This is why PVI believes that accreditation that recognizes and rewards legal compliance, professionalism, quality and excellence is to be applauded and embraced."