Polemis said the decision had been made during a meeting in London last week because “many shipping companies have concluded that arming ships is a necessary alternative to avoiding the Indian Ocean completely, which would have a hugely damaging impact on the movement of world trade.” 

     This is big folks.  News like this can invigorate the demand for armed private security on boats and really fire up this aspect of the industry.  Which is good, because there are a ton of capable veterans/security specialists out there ready to jump on this stuff.

    Hell, with most of these maritime contracts being very short in duration, I could see guys actually planning to do a contract here or there just for a change of pace from Iraq or Afghanistan.  But on the down side, these short term contracts are what turns off some folks.  Meaning sometimes guys like stability within their contract, and they like to hang their hat on a good gig for awhile.

     And for the guys that are truly experienced and qualified to do this stuff, they will require a price to match or exceed what they would be earning for their efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan. The quotes I am hearing for pay for these types of gigs is kind of low if you ask me. Like I said, if the industry expands and there is a high demand for qualified individuals, the companies/clients will have to pay the price.  Because in this industry, you get what you pay for.

    What will really be exciting is to see what companies rise to the top as the best private naval companies? It will really be interesting to see how this private navy backed by JLT turns out?  Perhaps these talks are connected to the efforts of this insurance company and we will get some more scoop on their operations in the near future?

     Either way, I am glad to hear that the ICS (which represents around 80 percent of the world’s merchant fleet) has changed their minds and listened to reason in regards to armed guards on boats. It is the right thing to do and this industry will certainly do what it can to meet their needs. Plus, the economics of continuing to pay ransoms and fueling a piracy industry or the amount of time and money lost by re-routing ships in order to avoid this piracy scourge is also a huge factor in making this decision. –Matt

The Voice of International Shipping

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF) are the principal international trade association and employers’ organisation for merchant ship operators, representing all sectors and trades and about 80% of the world merchant fleet.

15 February 2011 – Shipping Industry Changes Stance on Armed Guards

ICS – whose Executive Committee comprising representatives of national shipowners’ associations from over 30 countries met in London last week – has decided to clarify its stance on the use of private armed security guards to defend merchant ships against attacks by Somali pirates. ICS members have also identified a vital need for the military to disable the hijacked ‘motherships’…

Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Coast of Somalia

Website for ICS/ISF here.

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Shippers back private armed guards to beat pirates

Feb 15, 2011

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has changed its policy on private armed guards, and now accepts operators must be able to defend their ships against rising pirate attacks, the chamber said on Tuesday.

The ICS, which represents around 80 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, has so far discouraged its members from the use of private armed guards on its vessels.

“ICS has had to acknowledge that the decision to engage armed guards, whether military or private, is a decision to be made by the ship operator after due consideration of all of the risks, and subject to the approval of the vessel’s flag state and insurers,” the Chairman of the London-based ICS, Spyros M Polemis said in a statement.

Polemis said the decision had been made during a meeting in London last week because “many shipping companies have concluded that arming ships is a necessary alternative to avoiding the Indian Ocean completely, which would have a hugely damaging impact on the movement of world trade.”

Somali pirates currently hold around 40 ships and 700 crew members as hostage.

“ICS members have also identified a vital need for the military to disable the hijacked ‘motherships’ which the pirates are now using to launch attacks throughout much of the Indian Ocean,” the association said, adding it estimates piracy to cost the global economy between $7-12 billion a year.

Somali pirates have begun using on high seas large captured ships as ‘motherships’, which contain several smaller attack vessels to enter merchant ships.

“If increasing numbers of ships decide to divert around the Cape of Good Hope, this will almost certainly have a major impact on inventories and costs throughout the whole supply chain and, most particularly, on the cost of oil,” the association said.

Story here.