The International Maritime Organization has tasked the International Standards Organisation with developing the first global standard for private maritime security companies.
Speaking last week at an IMO maritime safety committee press conference, secretary-general Koji Sekimizu announced the decision to provide guidance and an international standard for PMSCs and said that IMO working groups would discuss the details this week.
Lloyd’s List now understands that in plenary the IMO working group recommended guidance to PMSCs and passed this to the ISO as its minimum requirement for setting the standard.
As a result, the ISO is said to be planning to invite initial input from all interested parties,before creating an expert drafting group to draft the standard and guidelines by the time the committee next meets in November.
Bolstered by UK prime minister David Cameron’s legalisation of armed guards in October, the number of PMSCs has grown exponentially in the last year.
As the industry has grown, so has the need for effective regulation. However, the absence of a single standard has spawned myriad systems and vetting procedures.
The Security in Complex Environments Group secured a UK government mandate to draw up a standard for armed guards in June 2011. However, this came after other bodies such as the Security Association for the Maritime Industry had already launched standardisation and accreditation systems.
SCEG director Oona Muirhead said that the group’s paper, along with others submitted, would provide a baseline paper for the ISO.
“SCEG will work with the ISO to implement a national standard quickly. The work done by SCEG will provide the ISO with a real head start. The next MSC is in November this year and it will be good to have it done and dusted by then,” Ms Muirhead said.
She described the proposed guidance as a “huge step forward” for the industry.
BIMCO chief maritime security officer Giles Noakes said the guidance was “generic but significantly more direct and prescriptive than MSC circular 1405”. The circular was published by the IMO in September 2011 to guide shipowners on use of armed guards.
“BIMCO will continue to support the ISO by sharing the requirements in Guardcon, its standard contract for the of use armed guards,” Mr Noakes said. Guardcon launched in March to provide shipowners and PMSCs with a contract containing a clear set of requirements to which both parties could adhere.
SAMI said it could not comment on the situation yet. The ISO and the IMO had not commented by the time of going to press.