Choosing a Maritime Protection Comany

It is obvious that maritime protection is necessary for the protection of the mariner at sea, especially in known piracy areas. Taking into account the legalities and liabilities of Armed VS Unarmed security,what considerations should a shipping company have in choosing a private maritime security company to serve in the protection of their crews and vessels?

Training and experience of those embarked to provide security.
So how does an American Merchant Marine Officer that Lives near Manila contact you folks for employment information?

One consideration should be that a company that deploys security teams must confirm their belief that the Ships master is the ultimate decision maker on board the ship. Any operational security plan must be reviewed and ‘blessed’ by the Master. the security detail is there to defend against attack but the master is responsible for any actions taken. If a security company demands that all Master’s aboard all their ships must just outright accept anything the security company intends to do, that is the wrong approach. The security team needs to have enough flexibility to respect the Masters experience and responsibility.

[B]Armed or unarmed security is an issue that the client needs to explore not only their flagged state, or because they may think that armed is better than unarmed. Clients need to have an in depth consultation with their insurance provider, owners, charterers and Master’s before that decision is made. To engage a security provider based on whether they are armed or unarmed would not be prudent.

I believe the first consideration a client should look at is the management of the provider. They need to be assured that the totality of the provider’s management is capable of supplying the right service and managing that service.

The next step should be full disclosure. Disclosure of the security providers methods and personnel. The client needs to be assured that the personnel you are providing them with are solid individuals and that their backgrounds are solid. Not just having the right experience, for example, they did not leave military service under less than desirable conditions, and that they do not have a criminal background as well.

Disclosure of methods needs to be complete and discussed thoroughly. The client needs to fully understand how you are going to protect the vessel and crew and what contingency plans you have.

Yes you are selling yourself to the client but these are things that should be offered to the client rather than waiting for them to ask for it. The security provider should be open to independent analysis of a qualified security risk management firm to reassure the client that their methods are sound.

What can an unarmed company do to protect a ship with a low freeboard? That is the type of question the client should ask. And of course we have our methods to deal with just that issue.

Most security companies claim that all their men are former Special Forces and what not. Personally, I do only hire former military personnel but only for one reason. They have proven themselves to be able to perform under stressful situations and get the job done. I can train just about anyone in the methods we employ in vessel defense, but when the attack happens, they need to perform.

I am sure that most providers have similar methods, but none have exactly the same methods or even the same ideology. The client needs to choose a company based on what they think is best for them by analyzing the various companies offering maritime security. [/B]

I have been watching a lot of posts in various forums having to do with maritime security. One of the issues that is lacking is the possession of a seaman’s book by on board security personnel. I think that anyone working on a merchant vessel in any capacity should possess the necessary training and have obtained a seaman’s book. The issues go beyond security itself, but the on board security team needs to have a cohesive working relationship with the crew. In order for that to be maximized, I think this is a standard that should be set.

[B]I have done a bit of research (as a company owner that is my obligation) regarding the armed vessel escort and have to say it is a very dangerous option. should a vessel carry automatic firearms on board, it first has to have a permit and clearance from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) Semi automatic exempted. As these weapons would fall under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”).

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) Articles 100 - 107 cover piracy. Article 107 would specifically prevent a private security vessel from seizing any suspected pirate craft as this right is reserved for military vessels and aircraft.

Also, should the private security escort vessel fire upon or attempt to board a suspect vessel, that act can be considered an act of piracy in itself. If so, the private security vessel can be seized and the crew prosecuted.

However, the security vessel has the right to defend itself if attacked or fired upon. However, as a private security vessel and not a military vessel, it is a far stretch to be able to defend another vessel against attack, unless you were considered an extension of the merchant vessel and defending the merchant vessel. you can not be an extension of the merchant vessel unless you are flagged and owned by the same company as the merchant vessel.

Therefore, in order to legally defend the clients vessel, you must be on board and comply with the DDTC and ITAR. [/B]

Sea Marshall is right - to a point!
The regulations set out by DDTC and the adherence requirements to ITAR are only relevant to registered US Companies and applicable to the use of and inclusion of US Citizens, so if you are not a US company and your Security personnel are not US citizens, these rules [U][B]do not[/B][/U] apply! However UNCLOS will and this, as we know is a big enough minefield to navigate - but it is possible and Escort vessels do work! If a vessel requests help for an emergency in international waters, ANY vessel who responds to such a request has the legitimate right to assist the distressed vessel and should the helping vessel (at any stage) feel that it and the personnel aboard are in danger or their lives threatened, can take the necessary action (whilst using the appropriate minimal force - compatable to the force posed as the threat) to safeguard the lives of their Crew and their vessel - this also applies to the vessel and crew it is assisting. (which is nice!!!)

The one common problem is this. Do you arm your teams or not. US teams or not, you will have to deal with some countries law at sometime, if they are armed. If they are not armed, is it enough ?
I keep pushing this site, as it is mine. But I believe in this system. Look at the site and tell me if you had a choice would you want your vessel to be protected from the air and have 30, 40, 50 nm’s warning and be able to get out of the pirates way or have an armed team on board trading RPG rounds.

[quote=seamarshals;11289][B]I have done a bit of research (as a company owner that is my obligation) regarding the armed vessel escort and have to say it is a very dangerous option. should a vessel carry automatic firearms on board, it first has to have a permit and clearance from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) Semi automatic exempted. As these weapons would fall under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). [/B]

Agreed, adhering to state and international rules and regulations concerning weapons systems is mandatory but it’s also the shipping companies’ and ship’s Captain duty to ensure contracted PSCs are following those regulations.

The ITAR is huge and lengthy but if you look at some you begin to see other areas besides weapons systems. Optics for example. Any night vision device or night vision capability coming for example from the US is a taboo. Many optics have night vision capability. The EOTECH which is used by many PSCs in Iraq and Afghanistan is not a night vision device but when combined with true NVGs, it retains a night vision capability.

The ITAR as well as other regulations for transporting armaments are just baby steps for companies to understand, but understand them they must if they are to hire PSCs. There are so many items listed, even cat5 computer cable is llisted under the strategic commodity category…

[B]Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) Semi automatic exempted. As these weapons would fall under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). [/B]
[B]It would seem that anyone wanting to get into this type of work MUST leave the USA and all her crazy rules and laws! This is one more great example of how Gov’t is MORE of the threat than a help!:mad:[/B]

It’s not just the pirates that you need to look out for. Consider this; the goal of your shipping industry is the movement of persons and goods to an intended destination on time, in the right condition, and for a reasonable cost. While the threat associated with piracy is reasonably clear, there are some side issues that ship owners and operators should be aware of. This is the first of three that we want to make sure that ship owners are aware of before they find themselves in challenging positions.

The first shark in the water is the unethical broker. The unethical broker is little more than an opportunist who causes damage to both parties in the contracting process. For the client, this begins with an exorbitant fee on top of the contract—sometimes as high as 25% of the gross. For the ship operator, this means that on a $100K contract for ship security, it can lose $25K just on this one step. Security companies, like shipping companies, are in this as a business. This means that the security company will make one of two decisions—reduce the costs associated with delivering the same level of service or increase the price. The former represents less value in the contract and less assurance that the ship can be protected appropriately. The second is a financial pressure that can be ill-afforded in the shipping industry.

This kind of practice might be considered reasonable if it was honest. It is not. Many represent themselves as actual security companies that are delivering the services directly.

The first way that these unethical brokers operate is to gather a number of bids from security companies and then inflate them all with a “service fee” or “professional fee” –sometimes as high as 25% of the gross value of the contract. In short, the bid that you receive may be inflated significantly from what you should be paying. The second part of this is that the unethical broker may actually be presenting bids from several different companies, deliberately manipulating the bid to put them all into the same price range. The end result, you pay a lot more than you need to.

The second way is for the broker to disguise himself as a security service provider. This is one of those half-truths. In these cases, the unethical broker will offer a low-ball cost and will then cast about into the security provider community to see if anyone is willing to pick up the contract. Of course, the individual communicates that the contract is worth so much after his or her cut is removed—offering the remainder to the company. The end result is that the client receives significantly less value for his or her dollars.

So what can a company do about this? There are some easy steps that you can follow:
• First, require that the total cost be broken down into itemized costs;
• Second, require that any work that is not being done by the person you are dealing with is clearly identified and require the ability to meet directly with any subcontractors; and
• Third, require that bids clearly and concisely communicate the total costs to you—or at least clearly list those items that might be considered “additional” costs.
These simple steps are intended to ensure that you are receiving value for your dollars. Credible security companies are willing to be reasonably transparent about what they are billing you for. If they are vague or evasive, take a cue from their investigations manual and demand a straight answer to the question.

There are, of course, times when a good broker is invaluable. This value generally falls into two categories. First, the broker can save a great deal of time in the search and vetting processes. Good brokers treat unethical security companies the same way that security companies treat unethical brokers—they stay far apart. Second, the good broker can also provide an indication of price ranges and other information that can keep a company from either being pillaged by a security company or accepting a bid that is “too good to be true” and likely to fail. The key here is to understand that they are both in the market and to make sure you take a few steps to protect your own organization from the unethical ones.

Make sure the company you hire have adequate mercenaries, as well as up to date alert and tracking technology.

I would not say adequate mercenaries, I would say experienced maritime security operatives. And yes, tracing and communications technology is a must.