Use of Force

There are many who believe that having armed guards onboard can pose risk of an escalation of violence, but does this tell the whole story?

Speaking in Lloyd’s List, Paul Gibbins Director of Communications for Protection Vessels International (PVI) Limited states that there is strong opinion that the use of armed force puts the masters and crews of vessels under ever more danger of injury or loss of life. The risk of an ‘escalation of violence’ is used as an argument against the use of private security companies, but he believes that this is unfair and a view not supported by actual evidence.

The key to understanding this debate is recognising that the “force” used has to be  “proportional” – private security firms are not the military, and their response to pirates is goverened by strict rules for the use of force, and by the “law of self-defence”.

According to Gibbins, there is no evidence that private security has escalated violence  – in fact, as far as he is concerned it is actually the military which have perhaps inflammed situations – especially in the case of the US yacht “Quest” and the French yacht, “Tanit”. Instances in which millitary engagement led to loss of innocent lives.

As more shipowners see armed guards as the only current effective deterrent, and as the fact remains that no vessel with an armed security team embarked has been successfully hijacke, it is perhaps understandable that so many companies are looking to employ private armed security.

Gibbins states that reputable security companies are only too willing to provide prospective shipping clients with detailed guidelines their teams operate by, from the identification of hostile intent and hostile acts and the appropriate responses deemed necessary to counter the threat. He also states the important roles being taken by the This International Maritime Organization and he Security Association for the Maritime Industry, as minimum standards for security companies to operate by are rolled out.

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One Reply to “Use of Force”

  1. Brian Hayes

    Well stated – many of the personnel who make the argument that PSC’s escalate violence are not fully cognizant of how security teams operate. The simple truth is that the presence of security teams is a deterrent to those who wish to seize these vessels and crew for more nefarious reasons. Having worked this industry for many years it’s about the application of smart and well trained personnel in these situations that will dispel these myths created by the ill informed.

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