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UK government to give formal legal backing for private armed guards on British merchant vessels

Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said companies should be free to decide on their own The UK is preparing to give formal legal backing to the use of private armed guards on British merchant vessels to protect against piracy. At present, the government "strongly discourages" the practice and anyone doing it could be in breach of the law.But Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham said companies should be free to decide on their own security.He said ideally Royal Marines would be posted on all UK ships, but currently resources did not allow that.Piracy in the Indian Ocean, particularly off the coast of Somalia, has become a growing problem in recent year. Many companies have been forced to pay large ransoms to secure the release of hostages and cargo.'Fact of life' During World War I and II, British merchant vessels were routinely armed, but since then the legal position has been unclear, and any shipowners who employ armed guards could be in breach of the law - as could the guards themselves.But giving evidence to the foreign affairs committee, Mr Bellingham said the government wanted to clarify the situation.He said there had not been a single recorded hijack of a vessel with ...

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Armed guard cover on Indian ships on high seas in the offing

Complaints of shipping firms and guards being harassed by port authorities To combat piracy, the shipping ministry has issued an order to all Indian ports to allow foreign ships to touch base with their armed guards.Earlier, there were several complaints of shipping firms and guards being harassed by port authorities and other officials in case fire weapons were found on guards.Sources said though foreign ships used to get armed guards on board, they either used to drop their weapons in the sea or hid them in their vessels before entering into Indian ports. Usually, the ministry of external affairs had to be roped in to settle the disputes.Now, the ministry's initiative envisages allowing Indian shipping firms to deploy armed security guards in vessels passing through the piracy-infested zone on high seas. The ministry is considering deployment of armed guards on board to reduce chances of pirates taking over the vessels."If we wait for an amendment to the Private Security Guards Act by the home ministry, there would be much delay. So to avoid procedural hurdles, we will soon issue the order specifying the parameter for security agencies, who could supply trained guards. Ex-armymen are likely to be preferred for the ...

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Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines places armed guard to protect its vessels

Wallenius decided to hire security staff to protect its ships as they sail throughpiracy waters Swedish shipowner Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines is placing armed guards to protect its vessels from attack by Somalia-based pirates in the Gulf of Aden.The decision following an investigation by Swedens government puts Wallenius, which transports cars and trucks on worldwide routes, firmly if reluctantly on one side of an issue that has divided the shipping world as pirate attacks on international ships off the East Africa coast have grown increasingly frequent, bold and deadly.Wallenius said the guards are equipped with sniper rifles and assault rifles.The Swedish government began an inquiry in April into whether Swedish ships should used armed guards to protect themselves from piracy.After holding its own internal investigation, Wallenius decided to hire security staff to protect its ships as they sail through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.This is not a development we would have liked to see, but we have unfortunately felt forced to act, Peter Jodin, head of maritime security at Wallenius, told Swedish Radio.The Swedish Shipowners Association backs Wallenius decision, which is in line with International Maritime Organization guidelines.It is not known how many ship-owners use armed guards as ...

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Shipowners to cover their expenses for claims over the use of armed guards

The compensation can raise up to $1.5m per event Shipowners now are able to cover their expenses regarding claims over the use of armed guards. These expenses have been launched by Seacurus to cover the legal costs if the shipowners start the procedure to fight a claim. The compensation can raise up to $1.5m per event.Claims have to be related with allegations of corporate killing, manslaughter, maiming or personal injury arising as a consequence of the accidental or deliberate discharge of armed guards on board the vessel. The risk is insured and can be written for a single voyage or on a fleet-wide basis.The cover is suitable for owners who employ armed guards to protect their vessels whether or not they buy kidnap and ransom insurance. The legal costs arising out of an insured event would not be covered by the traditional insurances. Furthermore, they will not come under specific policies such as kidnap and ransom.K&R insurance is only triggered by a demand for ransom and it is most likely that claims would arise during efforts made to avoid a hijacking. Consequently, the K&R policy would not be covered. K&R usually comes with a section covering owners if they are ...

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Swedish shipper deploys armed guards on its vessels

Being the first Swedish-flagged shipper to state publicly that used armed guards against pirates Swedish car shipper Wallenius Lines said it had deployed guards with rifles on its vessels to ward off Somali pirates, the first Swedish-flagged shipper to state publicly it had armed personnel on board.Somali pirates are making millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, despite attempts by international navies to clamp down on such attacks.Shippers transiting these waters are increasingly warming to the idea of turning to private security suppliers to combat the threat, but have been tight-lipped about details."Because violence has escalated from the pirates' side we feel we need to take further steps, as best we can, not to be attacked. We have therefore hired companies that deploy experienced staff to handle weapons, to protect our sailors," said Peter Jodin, head of maritime safety at Wallenius.He said privately held Wallenius, which transports cars and trucks worldwide, said the arms consisted of assault rifles and sniper rifles."It's weapons that enable us to show approaching pirates from afar that we are armed. This is not meant for close protection."The global shipping industry says it is arming vessels extremely ...

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Norway shipowners welcome the use of armed guards

New regulations to be released Shipowners of Norway have welcomed a clarification from the country's government on the use of armed guards on their ships.New regulations are expected to be released tomorrow by the Norwegian government, after giving a briefing to the country's shipowners this week, that will strengthen and clarify certain aspects of the country's existing ship security laws . Norway developed its first rules on ship security in 2007 but they did not deal with the then unknown threat of piracy.The new rules will give owners of Norway-flagged vessels the procedures they will need to follow if they wish to employ armed security when transiting the Gulf of Aden or any other waters believed to be at risk from piracy.The rule clarification will see owners required to get a general framework permission from a Norwegian police authority and the country's maritime directorate and then to document the actual use of a properly trained and vetted armed services with the authorities.It is said that the government will develop a blacklist of companies that the country's flagged owners may not use.Alongside this new rule there will also be a further clarification on the types of arms that can be brought ...

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A need for private security guards guards on Pakistani merchant vessels

Companies are reluctant to arm their crew because guns could increase violence Piracy on the high sea is continuing unchecked. Cargo vessels and oil tankers are generally targeted for hijacking by pirates because of their slow speed, less number of crew to deal with as compared to cruise liner and valuable rry for demanding huge ransom.Although, Pakistan Navy and navies of six other countries who contribute to the Combined Task Force (CTF)-151 which is an international task force to counter the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Aden around the Horn of Africa patrols the trade route that connect Asia to Europe, but pirates still manage to attack their targeted vessels and take control of the vessel without any resistance.The reason is that crews on a merchant vessel are unarmed since shipping companies are reluctant to arm their crew because guns could increase liability from accidents and escalate the violence with pirates. Moreover, carrying weapons are also banned on commercial vessels in some international ports. But many countries have allowed their merchant ships to employ their own private security guards on board to counter pirates.According to a report published in New York Times on March 24 last year, a ...

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Armed guards on Indian merchant vessels to be applied soon

The process is going on In view of the piracy attempts on merchant vessels, the Directorate-General of Shipping will soon issue a notification allowing armed security guards on board Indian merchant vessels."The process is going on. The draft notification will be issued in 3-4 weeks," Director-General of Shipping S.B. Agnihotri said here on Saturday. He was addressing a meeting to mark the first year celebrations of the 'Day of Seafarer'. It will be celebrated on June 25 every year.Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral NirmalVerma said: "A policy for deploying armed security guards on Indian flagged ships is being examined by the government."Union Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan, who was the chief guest, announced welfare initiatives for seafarers. "It is proposed to start a contributory scheme by the SPFO so that seafarers are assured of a monthly income."Biometric identity cards would be issued to all seafarers. "The Ministry is also thinking of increasing the amount of monthly ex-gratia monetary scheme . We will extend it to all categories," Mr. Vasan said. "We are also considering giving income tax exemption to seafarers. It is under consideration with the Finance Ministry."The Minister said a grievance redress day would be held every six ...

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As pirate attacks grow shipowners take arms

It is a big and bad commercial world out there Over the last two centuries, the use of military force at sea has become largely the preserve of states. The legal basis under which modern-day cargo ships -- with their often multinational crews and ownership structures -- can use lethal weaponry is far from clear, and the IMO guidelines have no weight in international law.Williams tells his students that their best bet is to find a reputable security company that operates with clear rules of engagement -- but that even then, it may be impossible to avoid a whole host of legal dangers."We are former servicemen, and as such are simple creatures, but you can guarantee the ambulance-chasers and human rights lawyers are sitting on the sidelines watching this," he says.Some of his students say they would be happier carrying weapons -- "it's kind of a comfort blanket, I suppose," says one Afghanistan veteran. Others worry. "I haven't made up my mind yet. There are arguments for and against," said a former policeman who now works as a private investigator -- "mostly marital."Convenient?The legal risks of bearing arms at sea are further complicated by the often complex ownership of modern ...

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Private armed guards and specialised Somali anti-piracy courts discussed at 8th meeting of CGPCS WG2

8th meeting of CGPCS WG 2 BIMCO was represented at the 8th meetingof Working Group (WG) 2 of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which took place in Copenhagen on 21 June.At the meeting, more than 100 participants from 38 countries and several international organisations discussed a number of pertinent issues, including legal aspects of the use of armed guards and modalities for the possible establishment of specialised Somali anti-piracy courts.Developments since last meetingStates and organisations reported on recent developments with regard to national prosecution of suspected pirates, recent piracy incidents, lessons learned in court cases, human rights considerations, bilateral agreements and national procedures on disposition of suspected pirates.A number of states (Japan, India, Germany, Seychelles, Belgium, The Netherlands, USA, Tanzania, Yemen, Spain, Denmark, Puntland and Somaliland) reported on status in ongoing prosecutions. Denmark, Japan and Tanzania provided information about their recent efforts to establish comprehensive national policies and procedures relating to piracy cases.Information was also provided by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Department of Political Affairs (UN DPA), and the EU on their efforts to counter piracy, including through ...

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