As predicted, Germany has become the¬†latest flag state to adopt a national¬†certification process¬†for private maritime security companies seeking to place guards onto vessels flying their flag.
From December 1, 2013, the licensing requirement applies to all security companies with headquarters in Germany and to foreign providers carrying out security duties on German vessels.
Similar to other schemes elsewhere a company must outline its whole organisation and procedures in order to demonstrate its suitability to provide services. In particular, it must demonstrate how it will ensure the suitability and reliability of its directors and employees, while insurance is also a key issue.
While the scheme itself has been widely praised, there have been some criticisms of the initial licensing fee, which is expected to be between ‚Ç¨8,000-‚Ç¨16,000 ($10,299-$20,523). The announcement of the fee structure at a recent conference in Hamburg led the audience to question who the ‚Äúpirates‚Äù were, as they balked at the high price.
Increasingly flag States are now tackling this issue ‚Äì and while many hoped they would accept ISO 28007 as prima facie evidence of suitability, it seems that the¬†assessing the suitability of¬†armed guards for their vessels is just to contentious to leave to third parties. As such Germany now follows Panama, Cyprus, Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Malta and the Netherlands in passing national accreditation legislation. While elsewhere, Luxembourg, Italy and Japan are working on their own legislation and Japan expects to pass it by the time its assembly closes in late summer. There will also be a scheme for national accreditation from the UK government.
The Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) has said it provided guidance to Germany, Cyprus and Japan, and shared information with Luxembourg, and it has been looking to ensure that the requirements of the flag States are able to provide the robust reassurance the nations need, but without being too onerous upon their member companies.
The trade association is currently formulating a directory to advise PMSCs on the most effective route through the various accreditations, and is working with lawyers in a number of States to assist their members in gaining certification.