Building on the success of its widespread GUARDCON contract for the deployment of security forces on ships, BIMCO will develop a new standard contract for the termination of the services of security escort vessels (SEV).
The need for a standard treaty is fueled by the ongoing attacks by Nigerian pirates, mostly in international waters in the eastern Gulf of Guinea. Local laws, and sometimes just local enforcement practices, make it difficult for shipowners to call ports in the region with “foreign” armed guards on board their ships. Some countries in the region also prohibit local armed guards from boarding foreign merchant ships.
As a result, private maritime security companies (PMSC) have worked with local navies to develop escort shipping services in these areas to comply with local regulations and practices. Typically, the escort ships must carry a team of local armed naval guards, sometimes accompanied by a PMSC liaison officer. There is currently no standard form of contract available to shipowners and PMSCs for hiring SEV services when operating in West Africa.
In response to request from its members, BIMCO believes that a standard SEV contract will help harmonize the conditions for hiring escort vessels, making it easier and faster for shipowners and PMSCs to conclude contracts to protect ships.
BIMCO will invite representatives of PMSCs and shipping companies operating in West Africa, along with P&I and legal experts, to help develop a standard SEV contract that fairly represents the interests of all parties involved.
The project is to start in the second half of February / first half of March. Once a full draft has been created, it is passed on to the industry through a consultation process where comments and feedback are sought.