By MICHELLE WIESE BOCKMANN (BLOOMBERG)
MANILA, Philippines — Governments don’t want to regulate standards for private armed guards on the world’s ships, employed to protect vessels against hijacks by Somali pirates, in case they get sued, the United Nations’ shipping body said.
It’s no accident the International Maritime Organization (IMO), representing 160 countries, hasn’t taken responsibility, Chris Trelawny, deputy director of the IMO’s maritime safety committee, said at a conference yesterday.
The committee, scheduled to meet in London May 16-25, will discuss the lack of international guidelines for armed guards firing on suspect pirates.
“If I’m your hypothetical no-win, no-fee lawyer, I’m not going to go after the private security company that hasn’t got any money,” Trelawny said at the Tradewinds Marine Risk Forum in London. “I would go after the shipping company. And if I haven’t got any money there, I’m going to go after the flag state. That is where flag states are getting worried as to how much liability they want to take on board.”
Flag states refer to governments that register vessels, which in return fly a country’s flag and comply with its laws on the high seas. Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands are the top three.
Use of armed guards is rising with Somali pirates attacking more than 800 ships, and hijacking more than 170 vessels since 2008, taking 3,400 seafarers hostage, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre in London. Some 23,000 vessels transit the Gulf of Aden a year carrying $1 trillion in trade, the UK government estimates.
Ship owners fear families of suspect pirates injured or killed by armed guards will sue if armed guards don’t act reasonably, said Giles Noakes, chief maritime security officer with the Baltic and International Marine Council. The trade group represents ship owners controlling about 65 percent of the world tonnage.
More than 25 percent of vessels that transit the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, an area larger than continental US, use armed guards to protect against pirate attacks, Nick Maddalena, director of marine insurance broker Seacurus Ltd., said at the conference.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via mb.com.ph. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com