Arming seafarers should be discouraged, but flag states should work with owners to come up with a policy on carrying armed professional security teams on ships.
Arming seafarers should be discouraged, but flag states should work with owners to come up with a policy on carrying armed professional security teams on ships, the IMO"s Maritime Safety Committee has said.
There was overwhelming support in the Maritime Safety Working Group against arming seafarers and concerns were raised that this could lead to an escalation of violence both before and after an attack.
However, the MSC acknowledged that the used of armed profession security teams on vessels was a matter for flag states to determine in conjunction with shipowners.
A number of delegations present at the MSC meetings this week expressed concern about the decision on arming vessels being left to flag states rather than involving coastal and port states, who might have conflicting views about the issue of armed ships visiting their waters.
Concerns were also raised over whether owners of vessels flying a certain flag could be forced to concede to the wishes of a flag state who wished its vessels to carry armed guards.
IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos came up with a compromise wording to ensure that flag states would work with owners of ships flying their flag to consider in what circumstances ships would be allowed to carry armed professional security teams and take action as appropriate.
The MSC has also approved guidelines on security aspects for the operation of vessels which do not fall within the scope of Solas chapter XI and the ISPS code, including fishing vessels, pleasure craft, passenger vessels, and commercial non-passenger and special purpose vessels.
MSC 85 has also been considering the development of the Long Range Identification and Tracking System, including transitional arrangements for the establishment of the LRIT system. The majority of contracting governments were in favour of transitional arrangements ending on June 30, 2009.
Following the adoption at MSC 84 of a resolution on the establishment and operation of the International LRIT Data Exchange on an interim basis by the US, the US has indicated that it is prepared to continue to provide and operate the data exchange on an interim basis for a period of two years after December 31, 2009.
The committee approved the procedures for considering proposals for the amendment of technical specifications for the LRIT system as well as documentation for the prototype, development integration and modification testing phases of the system.
Also approved was guidance on certification of compliance of ships with the requirement to transmit LRIT information, guidance to search and rescue services on receiving the information and agreement on the best course of action to protect the system in the face of a malicious attack.
The MSC has also been considering the finalisation of goal based standards for bulk carriers and tankers and the associated amendments to SOLAS.