Merchant ships can now deploy armed guards to thwart piracy

PTI New Delhi | Updated on August 30, 2011

Faced with increased incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the Government has allowed deployment of armed guards on Indian merchant ships to thwart any such attempt by sea brigands.

Noting that about 35 per cent of the ships transiting in these waters deploy armed guards and pirates generally do not attack such ships, the Shipping Ministry has allowed ship owners to engage private maritime security guards.

“As per the guidelines, ship owners are allowed to engage private maritime security companies (PMSC), who are properly selected and vetted,” according to an official document.

Under the guidelines, all Indian ships visiting Indian ports will be required to furnish details such as security personnel on board, the firearms carried by them and the details of licence issued to port authority, Customs, Coast Guard and the Navy.

Foreign merchant vessels, with security guards on board, visiting Indian ports are also required to follow similar procedures.

The guidelines were issued by the Ministry after consultation with the Director-General (Shipping), the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of Revenue and Indian Navy & Coast Guard.

Earlier, the Government had set up an inter-ministerial group of officers to deal with hostage situation arising out of hijacking of merchant vessels with Indian crew on board.

Published on August 30, 2011

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