Maritime Security specialist Ambrey Risk has been awarded accreditation to work with Panama-flagged vessels. The UK-based security company, which won a Herefordshire Chamber of Commerce award last month, became one of the first maritime security companies to be granted official accreditation from the Panama Maritime Authority, on 28th September 2012, sanctioning the services of armed and unarmed escort guards on vessels transiting piracy high risk areas.

Ambrey Risk were quick to react following the recent change of law in Panama under which from 3rd October 2012 it was said all Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) serving Panamanian flagged ships must have official accreditation from the Panama Maritime Authority. (This directive has since been extended to 3rd January 2013.)

Business Management Director James Gasson-Hargreaves commented: “At Ambrey Risk, we intend to set the benchmark for regulatory compliance and professionalism in maritime security, so achieving this accreditation highlights our constant stride for compliance – and reassures customers with the confidence that Ambrey adheres to the highest standards of professionalism recognised in both the UK and internationally.”

The stringent review process of the Panamanian Administration was overseen by the Directorate General of Merchant Marine and vetted by a special board of experts from the Panama Maritime Authority. James Gasson-Hargreaves continued: “With this new law, all the paperwork will be with the authorities, and therefore granting approval for a team to come aboard can be achieved swiftly and efficiently We congratulate the Panamanian authorities for taking this positive step in its determination to ensure to ship owners and operators guarantee that only reputable companies with sound infrastructure are employed on board Panamanian registered ships.”

In MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.1 of 16 September 2011 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) raised concerns over the absence of applicable regulation and industry self-regulation, coupled with complex legal requirements governing the legitimate transport, carriage and use of firearms on ships. It was also said that the rapid growth in the number of private maritime security companies raised doubts about the capabilities and maturity of some of these firms.

With Panama’s new measure, any Panamanian accredited PMSC will have a flag state reference, proving to new clients and the industry that its operations and structure have been assessed by a competent administration. This promises to be an advance in aiding shipping companies to identify reliable, professional private providers of armed security.

John Thompson, Commercial Director of Ambrey Risk, added: “We always aim to keep abreast of new regulations, and Panama flagged vessels are very important to us, so we are pleased that this accreditation award will show we are staying agile and responsive to the needs of shipping and their account management with our own uncompromising standards and attention to detail. We would particularly like to thank Mrs Maria Dixon of ISM Shipping for her knowledge and sound advice in helping us manage the changes that have been brought into force by the Panamanian authorities.”

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