BIMCO To Publish Armed Guard Contract

BIMCO plans to publish its standard contract Guardcon on March 26. It is hoped the document will address concerns over the relationship between the master and the head of the security team on board a vessel.

Wednesday was the deadline for BIMCO’s documentary committee members to feedback comments. BIMCO said it had already received a significant number.
All were positive and mainly points of clarification and will therefore not delay the drafting process. The drafting sub-committee will meet on March 16 to finalise the draft.

Once the final wording is in place, Guardcon will be sent back to the documentary committee, who will have until March 22 to approve the contract. BIMCO will then produce an electronic version of the contract and this will be available on its website from March 26.

The relationship between the master and the security team is largely governed by section 4, clause 8 of Guardcon. The contract clarifies that the master is in charge throughout and in the event of a threat of piracy the security team leader will inform the master that they are invoking the rules for the use of force.

Each member of the security team has sole responsibility for any decision taken to use force. If the master perceives a risk to safety, he also has the right to order the team to stop shooting. However, every member of the team equally has the right to ensure personal self defence is not compromised.

Speaking at the Security in Complex Environments Group conference in London earlier this week, BIMCO chief maritime security officer Giles Noakes said that the industry body generally worked to avoid legislation and would always choose to self-regulate if possible.

He added that there had been a proliferation of private maritime security firms and with that came significant unknown liabilities. “The risk of PMSCs becoming long term is very real. As is the risk of their failure,” he said.

While Mr Noakes welcomed the clarification and guidance Guardcon will bring both shipowners and PMSCs, he also questioned who would take the lead in ensuring these standards are met.

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