InterManager seeks freedom of choice on use of armed guards

armedguardsInterManager, the international trade association for the ship management industry, is launching a campaign to allow shipowners and third party managers the freedom of choice in employing armed guards onboard ships transiting pirate-infested waters.

The InterManager campaign, which has received more than 90 percent support from its members, aims to persuade flag states and charterers to review their rules relating to armed guards onboard ship.

InterManager says any decision taken to provide armed guards should be based on a robust risk assessment of each vessel and its transit and should be in accordance with the guidance set out in Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) – the recently produced IMO guidelines on the employment of armed guards.  Such decisions should be unhindered by restrictive flag state legislation or charter party agreements.

Pressure for greater protection of ships transiting danger areas has grown following concerns over the effectiveness of naval operations in the area. Notwithstanding the efforts of the international community's naval forces deployed in the area since 2008, more than 3,500 seafarers have been taken hostage by pirates with around 60 dying as a result of their captivity.

InterManager, whose members include ship managers as well as crew managers, is keen to give all support possible to protect its seafarers from the mental and physical torture, degrading treatment, food deprivation and dehydration, that those held hostage suffer.

InterManager believes the shipping industry needs to work closer with those flag administrations, oil majors and bulk charterers who prohibit owners from employing armed guards. It says that the current situation creates a disparity between those companies free to involve armed private security and those who are prevented from utilizing this option, so increasing unnecessary risk for their crews.

Alastair Evitt, InterManager President, said: "At the end of the day it is the welfare of our crew members and their families that is at stake and there can never be too many initiatives running in parallel to address this disgraceful situation.

"Pirates are demanding increasingly larger ransoms as a result of which many ships are being held hostage for longer periods while owners attempt to negotiate deals. This can inevitably cause more personal stress to those captured and their families.

"InterManager believes the   sector has to utilize all tools available to it to stop ships being hijacked. Statistics to date demonstrate that no ship carrying armed guards has been captured."

September 15, 2011

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