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Fighting piracy - ISO guidelines for armed maritime guards

by Maria Lazarte on
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Piraterie en mer

As more and more ships navigating piracy-prone waters turn to armed guards for protection, a new set of ISO guidelines for maritime security companies will help ensure the reliability and safety of this response.

Over the last few years, piracy attacks have resulted in lives lost and traumatic ordeals for hostages. They have cost the global shipping industry billions of dollars, both in lost cargo and ransom payments. Although the use of armed personnel appears to be deterring pirates, the presence of weapons on board vessels crossing international waters raises a number of concerns.

To help instill confidence and ensure the safety, efficiency and reliability of this solution, ISO has developed the publicly available specification ISO/PAS 28007:2012, Ships and marine technology – Guidelines for Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) providing privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) on board ships (and pro forma contract).

Captain Charlie Piersall, Chair of the ISO technical committee that developed the document, explains, “We published ISO/PAS 28007 in record time in order to meet a critical market need. Many ships have already turned to armed guards as a response to piracy, and security guidelines were urgently needed. We were entrusted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the best place to develop the standard with their guidance and participation. IMO noted that it does not support self-certification or self-regulation.”

IMO Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu at the opening session of Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 91) highlighted that following “…the Committee’s request, at MSC 90, for the International Organization for Standardization to take this work forward, we now welcome the work done by ISO. Its contribution to the development of international minimum standards for the shipboard deployment of armed security guards will be particularly useful to flag States, and this will in turn help ship owners who urgently need practical as well as legally acceptable solutions…”

In addition to IMO, ISO/PAS 28007 is backed by major international corporations and intelligence and law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL, the European Commission and the Contact Group established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1851.

ISO/PAS 28007 is the only published International Standard dealing with armed guards on ships. The document contains essential information for private maritime security companies, and for ships selecting service providers. It also outlines sector-specific requirements for applying ISO 28000:2007, Specification for security management systems for the supply chain, to private maritime security companies. Compliance with ISO/PAS 28007 can therefore be acknowledged in a certification to ISO 28000.

The document addresses security management system elements such as resilience, planning, resources, training and awareness, communication and documentation. It outlines operational requirements for dealing with issues such as scene and casualty management, incident reporting and investigation, health and safety, and customer complaints.

ISO/PAS 28007 also includes recommendations for performance evaluation such as monitoring, audits, management and continual improvement. Implementation will help security companies demonstrate their ability to provide privately contracted armed personnel on board ships.

ISO/PAS 28007 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 8, Ships and marine technology. It is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store.