BIMCO updates Guardcon

Serious concerns over firearms’ provenance.

BIMCO updates GUARDCON guidance notes to reinforce importance of validating firearms end user certificates.

Press Release

BIMCO, the world’s largest international shipping association, has today voiced serious concerns about the apparently sizeable number of private maritime security companies (PMSCs) that are operating on ships without legitimate permits and licences to transport and carry weapons.

BIMCO has been made aware that some PMSCs are using weapons “rented” or “borrowed” from other security companies. This is an illegal practice because the weapons are not legitimately licenced to the end user. It is being done to save on operating costs to undercut legitimately operating PMSCs.

To drive home the importance of validating end user licences BIMCO has updated the guidance on Clause 10 of GUARDCON to clarify the responsibilities of owners and contractors in respect of permits and licences. Under a number of recognised international conventions, the firearms End User Certificate (EUC) has to be officially authorised by a government agency from the exporting country. The conventions also require the ship’s flag state to verify the authenticity of the EUC before issuing letters of authority (to allow the ship to have the weapons on board). The consequences for owners whose flag state fails to verify the authenticity of firearms EUCs before issuing letters of authority could be significant delays to the ship or even ship detentions.

Giles Noakes, Head of Maritime Security at BIMCO, said:

“This is an extremely important issue for the industry and parties should take very careful note of the legal obligations under GUARDCON for the carriage of firearms on board merchant ships.

“Flag states have an essential role to play in verifying the EUCs of private maritime security companies to ensure that everyone complies with the legal framework.”

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