Monday, August 29, 2011

Ships with Indian crew can have armed guards

As Reported HERE

The ministry of shipping on Monday issued guidelines allowing ships with Indian crew to deploy armed guards in a bid to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden. The move comes on the back of recommendations from the inter-ministerial group (IMG) of officers constituted to handle the hostage situation on hijacked ships and also suggest preventive measures.
It has been found that about 35 per cent of the ship transiting in these waters deploy armed security guards and that the pirates generally don’t attack ships with armed guards on board, an official release said on Monday. So far, 120 Somalian pirates have been apprehended by India as on date.
As per the new guidelines, ship owners are allowed to engage private maritime security companies (PMSC) through a proper selection procedure. In line with these, all Indian ships visiting Indian ports are to furnish details of security personnel on board, the firearms carried by them and the details of licence issued, etc, to the port authority, customs, Coast Guard and the Navy. Foreign merchant vessels visiting Indian ports with security guards are also required to follow similar procedure, as per the guidelines. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Anti-Piracy Leadership

As Reported In Global Insight

The first priority for the international community seeking to address the proliferating scourge of piracy is to bring together a community of capable and well-intentioned entities and organizations. The stark truth is that critical information is not shared and anti-piracy efforts are not harmonized to best effect.

ISSG Holdings has been providing leading-edge ship protection services in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of
Aden for over four years. Registered in the Seychelles, the Company provides a model for leveraging expertise and
technology for excellent client service. It has also been a leader in the efforts to professionalize maritime security
services. The management of ISSG are delighted to have the opportunity to share their insights into modern antipiracy
efforts with the readers of Global.

The fi rst priority for the international community seeking to address the proliferating scourge of piracy is to bring
together a community of capable and well-intentioned entities and organizations. Today, these communities are
fragmented and operate within silos. This is not to say that organizations are not attempting to discharge their
individual duties as they are best able. Many are doing more than that and under diffi cult conditions—whether it
be the various naval forces, customs organizations, shipping companies, agents, or Private Maritime Armed Security
Contractors (PMASCs). The stark truth is that critical information is not shared and anti-piracy efforts are not
harmonized to best effect.

A key element of this is in the passage of the information that is required for risk assessment. The system is broken.
For those assessing risk, few reporting centers are in agreement. Often events are reported differently (at
different locations even), late or sometimes not at all. On many occasions reported attacks are never broadcast back
to the anti-piracy community. In some cases, this failure to report is due to government reluctance to support
armed security personnel and companies. Given that many of these reports come from those same entities, the argument is
ludicrous. Reluctant governments need to assess their priorities as domestic policy considerations are
far outweighed by the need for the community to work together. The second priority must involve
the communication of operational requirements. The issue here is not that states have
controls—that is expected. Nor is it that the PMASC believes the state should bend to its will. The challenge arises
when the requirements communicated to the PMASC change, essentially forcing the PMASC into a state of noncompliance.
Two clear acts would alleviate this situation. First, provide a single location where the PMASC can go to
fi nd all the regional requirements. The second is to allow for the Customs Offi cer to have some discretion when it is
known that the ship was between ports of call when the transitions took place. These two factors eliminate needless
risk and waste.

The final priority for the community is to embrace and implement professionalization. Not industry selfregulation
(regulation belonging to the state), but proper professionalization and internal capacity building. If we
can work towards adopting professional standards and practices across the community, we will be in a much
better position to implement worthy protocols such as the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service
Providers and in time many of the problems hampering anti-piracy efforts today can be resolved. It is important to
note that professionalization is not simply a question of establishing ineffective industry guilds and
lobby groups. Of the organizations that are genuinely attempting to build industry capacity and
promote excellence, the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals has made particularly
noteworthy progress.

These are only three of many challenges facing the anti-piracy community – but by seriously
addressing these priorities the community will have made huge strides towards a return to law and order on the
high seas. ISSG Holdings is determined to play its part in achieving that objective, and we remain committed to
assisting those ships that require protective services. We also hope that our efforts, and the efforts of the anti-piracy
community, will also deliver a brighter future for the law abiding people of Somalia.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

India to Issue Armed Guard Notification

As Reported HERE
Govt to issue notification on armed anti-pirate guards

Mumbai: Indian merchant ships may soon be allowed to have armed guards to counter pirate attacks, two senior government officials said.
The Directorate General of Shipping plans to issue a draft notification allowing merchant ships to deploy armed guards on board, said Satish B. Agnihotri, who heads the regulatory agency.
Agnihotri did not give any details. H. Khatri, nautical surveyor-cum-deputy director general of shipping, who is preparing the draft, could not be immediately contacted.
Also See | Rising Risk (PDF)
Mint reported on 5 June that the government was considering allowing merchant ships to have armed guards to deal with the growing menace of piracy.
The International Maritime Organisation, a global overseer of operational and safety rules, in May approved employing privately contracted armed security personnel onboard ships transiting through the high-risk piracy area off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean.
There were 266 pirate attacks worldwide in the first six months of this year, compared with 196 in the same period last year, according to a July report of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a non-profit organization that deals with maritime crime and malpractice.
At least 60% of the attacks were by Somali pirates, mostly in the Arabian Sea. On 30 June, these pirates were holding 20 vessels and 420 crew members as hostage, demanding millions of dollars as ransom.
“In the last six months, Somali pirates attacked more vessels than ever before and they’re taking higher risks,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB. “This June, for the first time, pirates fired on ships in rough seas in the Indian Ocean during the monsoon. In the past, they would have stayed away in such difficult (weather) conditions.”
Nine Indian ships have been captured since January and 86 crew members are currently held hostage, shipping minister G.K. Vasan said. Talks for their release are on.
The government will allow shipping companies to hire private guards and former defence personnel for securing ships, said a person aware of the draft legislation being prepared.
The number of guards allowed on a ship will depend on its size, ranging from two for a small ship to four for a large crude carrier, said this person, who asked not to be identified.
India’s shipping industry has been lobbying for some time to be allowed to have armed guards on board. Hiring these guards will raise expenses, but the industry expects the insurance premium to come down in turn.
National security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon met executives of shipping companies last month to discuss ways to deal with piracy.
A senior executive with a shipping company said no progress has been made after the meeting, but welcomed the Directorate General of Shipping’s plan to issue guidelines on hiring armed guards.
The nation, he said, is paying Rs6 crore as additional war risk surcharge imposed by reinsurers.
The minimum additional premium on account of such attacks for a very large crude carrier valued at $64 million and carrying a cargo of 260,000 million tonnes (mt), is around $200,000 per month. A bulk carrier, valued at $50 million and carrying 50 mt, pays an additional premium of $50,000 a month.
“It is high time India pushed the United Nations for common and integrated efforts by deploying a force in the pirates infested area,” the shipping executive said.
India took over as president of the United Nations Security Council this month.
But armed guards alone may not be enough to end piracy, said a security expert, asking not to be named.
“The Somalian pirates don’t go by the size of the ships or cargo. They target crew for ransom. Now they may shift (attacks) from big vessels with guards to small vessels and yachts,” the expert said. International bodies, he said, should look for a sustainable resolution.