BIMCO updates GUARDCON guidance notes to reinforce importance of validating firearms end user certificates.

MAST applauds BIMCO’s drive to improve the overall industry standards of PMSC’s.  As a well established and fully compliant security company, MAST has led the way in developing and promoting PMSC regulatory standards. As the security environment in the southern Red Sea and Bab el Mandeb becomes increasingly uncertain in the face of Iranian backed Houthi aggression against the Saudi maritime forces, it is now especially important that commercial shipping deploys competent and well equipped armed security teams.
It is clear to us, BIMCO and other industry bodies, that PMSC’s that borrow weapons and in some cases personnel (on the basis of very casual due diligence) are unlikely to be maintaining the necessary military standards required to protect their clients vessels and crews.
BIMCO press release
1 November 2016/for immediate release
BIMCO updates GUARDCON guidance notes to reinforce importance of validating firearms end user certificates.
BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association, has today voiced serious concerns about the apparently sizeable number of private maritime security firms (PMSCs) that are operating on ships without legitimate permits and licences to transport and carry weapons.
BIMCO has been made aware that some PMSCs are using weapons “rented” or “borrowed” from other security companies. This is an illegal practice because the weapons are not legitimately licenced to the end user. It is being done to save on operating costs to undercut legitimately operated PMSCs.
To drive home the importance of validating end user licences BIMCO has updated the guidance on Clause 10 of  GUARDCON to clarify the responsibilities of owners and contractors in respect of permits and licences. Under a number of recognised international conventions, the firearms End User Certificate (EUC) has to be officially authorised by a government agency from the exporting country. The conventions also require the ship’s flag state to verify the authenticity of the EUC before issuing letters of authority (to allow the ship to have the weapons on board). The consequences for owners whose flag state fails to verify the authenticity of firearms EUCs before issuing letters of authority could be significant delays to the ship or even ship detentions.
Giles Noakes, Head of Maritime Security at BIMCO, said:
“This is an extremely important issue for the industry and parties should take very careful note of the legal obligations under GUARDCON for the carriage of firearms on board merchant ships.
“Flag states have an essential role to play in verifying the EUCs of private maritime security companies to ensure that everyone complies with the legal framework.”
To read BIMCO’s guidance notes in full click here.

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