PMSCs: 7 Key Questions for shipping

Collapse of GoAGT leads to increased scrutiny of due diligence procedures. 

PMSC’s bankruptcy and ISO 28007 – 7 Key Questions that may help  

The issues that led to GoAGT ceasing to trade will be clarified as the months roll by, but we regret the heavy human and financial impact on their contractors and the ship owners they service. GoAGT was an ISO 28007 accredited company, so we have focused on a few ‘additional’ questions to support the UKAS initial review of the ISO 28007, which is now due at the end of August.

Many are wondering if the fractured PMSC business model is actually broken; some ship owners are embarking 2 man armed security teams, which often means that they do not sail at full speed and would not be implementing Best Management Practice. If this ship is attacked by two or even three skiffs, could the team defend the ship and co-ordinate with the Master? It may be that by providing a 2 man team an ISO 28007 accredited company is in breach of the standard?

Within the CSO Alliance we have created a CSO members only group that can develop this debate. Certainly if more PMSCs collapse, the quality, supply/demand dynamic may swing back to the PMSC and the pricing may also increase.

As this situation develops these simple questions have been constructed to help a CSO support due diligence. They are the questions which several industry veterans feel are not fully covered in the initial ISO. This is not a definitive list and we look forward to constructive feedback. It may help PMSCs who have invested in quality people and an accredited process to stand out from the crowd.

The extra ‘support questions’ can be debated, but the ones we lead off with consider solvency, licensing and firearms proprietorship and legacy of a PMSC during the Due Diligence process:


1. Can the PMSC produce two years of independently audited company accounts, clearly demonstrating solvency and good fiscal governance? This is a requirement of 28007 Sect 4.1.10 but only asks to show the latest financial accounts, 2 years is better.


2. Does the PMSC have in place the appropriate UK Government (or equivalent national) trading license, such as the Open General Trade and Control License (OGL) and/or Open Individual Trade and Control License (OITCL), governing the requirements for the supply, delivery and transfer of firearms and security controlled goods.

Note: at least one of these licenses is also required where any UK national is employed or contractually engaged in any aspect of the company structure or delivery of services, specifically when using UK personnel for on-board security, regardless of the origin of weapons and controlled goods.

3. Has the PMSC ever breached the licence, if so, what action was taken?

Note: A voluntary declaration must be made to HMRC or PMSC national equivalent, any warning letters for breaches should be disclosed.


4. Does the PMSC have documentary evidence that firearms are procured, owned (invoice, annotated with weapon serial numbers), licenced (Export Licence and End User Certificate?), stored, utilised, transported, monitored/tracked (data base), embarked and disembarked legally?

5. Can the PMSC provide documentary evidence of the type and number of firearms they own or where a PMSC routinely leases firearms and controlled goods from a third party provider, the necessary documentation to show the actual ownership, licensing and disposal of those firearms and controlled goods?

6. In the event that there is misuse of firearms from an accidental or negligent discharge, resulting in bodily injury or death, can the PMSC provide documentary evidence of procedures, on board and onshore, that properly address the investigation and reporting of the incident? 28007 5.5 sets this out and PMSC should have this incorporated in to the SOPs.

7. Does the PMSC provide a robust 24/7 DPA, operational level of support that can provide an immediate and inclusive service.

We all recognise that audits are done by sampling so irregularities may not be detected, but we hope these simple questions help support the process.


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5 Replies to “PMSCs: 7 Key Questions for shipping”

  1. David Stone

    Interesting read but many holes in the thought process as far as the arms are concerned. The UK BIS-SPIRE does not have any list of arms bought by the PMSC from third countries and has no legal influence on the national legislation that other countries adhere to when an export license is issued. IMHO the biggest hole here is the fact that no central register exists for firearms bought by PMSC’s. This goes for UK and also foreign registered companies owned by UK citizens.
    Another fact that should be incorporated would be the financial vetting of the shipping owners as to whether they can pay the PMSC. Many PMSC’s have fallen afoul of shipping companies that have gone bakrupt in the middle of the ocean and have not been paid.

    The leasing – renting of firearms is illegal and should not even be covered in this article. I know AGMS rents with a guardian T56’s (Fully automatic). This alone is a national legal decision but once those arms leaqve the national waters of AGMS (or whoever is renting) this then becomes an international issue.

    In my opinion if a company cannot purchase its own weapons then it should not be operating.

  2. Danny Coyle

    Although the points are relevant and should be hopefully already in place this doesn’t answer the question as to what and why a company supposedly up amongst the big boys was aloud to go under. With the amount of contracts and transits running every month work was there suggesting the funds were there. You can’t expect people to believe that the clients weren’t paying up for the services received, so what happened? To say that SCEG is the voice for the PMSC, who is the voice or guardian for the guys actually on the water. The personnel left stranded when Goagt went under and unpaid have been left with literally nothing to show for it, whilst supposedly Davis this brilliant entrepreneur probably goes away unscathed.

    • David Rider

      Just to clarify one point: SCEG is not the ‘voice’ of PMSCs. SCEG is:

      “The Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) is a Special Interest Group, within ADS, which was formed in January 2011 to define, develop and facilitate robust, internationally recognised professional standards for the UK Private Security Sector operating abroad. SCEG’s partnership with the UK Government is vital and provides a unique construct whereby an industry body has a sustained dialogue with government departments with opportunities to contribute to the debate, shape policies and influence international fora.”

      You may be thinking of SAMI.

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