With the increasing use of armed guards on ships and the fear that second-rate security firms may take advantage of the piracy situation, BIMCO is forging ahead with the development of a standard contract for the employment of armed guards. 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). Of major importance is ensuring that security contractors have in place proper and sufficient public and employers’ liability insurance – which is a concern recently raised by the International Group of P&I Clubs. While much of the new BIMCO contract will deal with operational aspects of employing armed security guards, issues of liability and responsibility will be of prime importance.
New private maritime security firms are springing up almost daily to meet shipowners growing demands for their services for vessels operating in high risk areas. It is very important that this new sector is regulated and that harmonised terms are developed and agreed. BIMCO has given this project the highest priority so that the standard contract can be published as soon as possible – most likely within the next two months.