The Marshall Islands has released a directive (Marine Notice 2-011-39, Rev. 12/15), stating that anyone using Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) can only engage those certified to at least the ISO PAS 28007:2012 standard by a UK Accreditation Service-authorised certification body, effective as of 1 January, 2016. The notice also takes into account those PMSCs due to become certified or renew certificates after the 2016 deadline, stating they must comply with the ISO 28007:2015 standard.

The notice, entitled ‘Piracy, Security, and the use of Armed Security’, details the responsibility of both those on board and on land, advising, “To protect ships and their crews, companies must continue to perform due diligence; including thorough voyage security risk assessments and the utilisation of industry BMP guidelines.”

Alexander von Stein, special agent at Marshall Islands Yacht & Ship Registry, has confirmed to that private or commercial registration does not affect applicability, stating, “The Marine Notice would apply to all yachts, irrespective of their registration type."

The document then goes on to highlight the sheer number of PMSCs, which those in the superyacht industry specifically are aware has resulted in cowboy PMSCs. “The threat of piracy and armed robbery has also led to the prevalent use of armed guards and a marked expansion in the number of firms and national military authorities offering armed maritime security services for vessels transiting defined High Risk Areas (HRAs)," the directive reads. "It is within this context that the Administrator sets out the following requirements and policies.”

The embarkation of hand guns and shot guns has been prohibited, and rules surrounding ownership and renting of firearms and weaponry is also specified, something David Goldie, general manager of Akula yachts, tells, “[has] been included as there is evidence that some of the smaller companies are acting as brokers and do not own their own weapons or equipment, and sub-contract to companies with the necessary certifications and licenses.”

"Management companies should not depend on the vessel’s captain making the correct decision which, unfortunately, may be based on cost and the formal requirement." - David Goldie, general manager, Akula Yachts

Also included, as an appendix, is a set of 22 optional questions for ship owners, managers and crew (operators) to ask potential PMSCs providing armed security, including the company’s history, liability insurance, training records for staff members, rules for use of force, firearms licenses, details of weapons and awareness of flag-state requirements for carrying weapons.

“Management companies, insurers and underwriters should play more of an active role when a company is selected,” affirms Goldie. “They should not depend on the vessel’s captain making the correct decision which, unfortunately, may be based on cost and the formal requirement.”

View the full Marine Notice here.

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Marshall Islands Yacht & Ship Registry