International shipping association BIMCO announced today that it will be moving forward with the development of a standard contract for the employment of armed guards onboard ships to weed out “second rate” security firms.  The announcement comes in response to the worldwide escalation of piracy and maritime crime incidents and the rise in the number of private armed security firms fueled by shipowners’ growing need to employ such services for their vessels operating in high risk areas.

BIMCO says the new contract, which will be drafted by a team of experts of shipowners, lawyers and underwriters, and with the assistance of the International Group of P&I Clubs, will require private security firms offering armed guards to follow the IMO Guidelines for owners on the used privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships (MSC Circular 1405).  BIMCO says that while much of the new contract will deal with the operational aspects of employing armed security guards, issues of liability and responsibility will be of prime importance.

BIMCO stress’ the importance that this new sector needs to be regulated and that harmonised terms need to be developed and agreed upon. The standard contract is going to be published as soon as possible, most likely within the next two months.

BIMCO is the largest of the international shipping associations representing ship-owners controlling around 65 percent of the world’s tonnage.

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