Ship Security


Panama Merchant Marine Circulars No.228 and No.245 (September 2016)

Secure a Ship Ltd has achieved accreditation for a maritime security company to work with Panama Flagged Vessels.

There is now an online platform to request the Letter of Authorizations of Armed Security Personnel. Requests for Letter of Authorization of Armed Security Personnel will be received only through the online platform.

UK-based Secure a Ship Ltd became the first maritime security company to actively seek out and gain official accreditation in September 2012 from the Panama Maritime Authority sanctioning the services of armed and unarmed escort guards on vessels transiting piracy high risk areas.

Secure a Ship were swift to act, following the recent change of law in Panama under which from 3rd October 2012 all Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs) serving Panamanian ships must have official accreditation from the Panama Maritime Authority. Due to a lack of PMSC’s who got the accreditation Panama extended this to the 3rd January 2013.

Paul Maguire (Director) says “getting this accreditation early shows our strength and quality within the company, we welcome other PMSC’s into this exclusive fold. This also adds to our growing list of credentials of being ISO:28007, ISO18001, ISO14001 & ISO:9001 accredited, a certified Stage 1 member of SAMI and a member of SCEG”.

The stringent review process of the Administration was effected by two of its departments and vetted by a special board of experts from the Panama Maritime Authority.

With the new law, it is going to be easier for everyone, as all the paperwork will be with the authorities, and therefore granting approval for a team to come aboard can be achieved swiftly. This is a positive step by Panama in its aim of ensuring flexibility and good service to ship owners and operators and ensuring that reputable companies with sound infrastructure are employed on board Panamanian registered ships.

In MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.1 of 16 September 2011 the International maritime Organization raised concerns over the absence of applicable regulation and industry self-regulation, coupled with complex legal requirements governing the legitimate transport, carriage and use of firearms on ships. Further, it was said that the rapid growth in the number of private maritime security companies raised doubts about the capabilities and maturity of some of these firms.

With Panama’s new measure, any Panamanian accredited PMSC will have a flag state reference, proving to new clients and the industry that its operations and structure have been analysed by a competent administration. This promises to be an advance in aiding shipping companies to identify reliable, professional private providers of armed security.

Please see below the circular.

To: Ship-owners/Operators, Company Security Officers, Private Security Companies, Legal Representatives of Panamanian Flagged Vessels, Panamanian Merchant Marine Consulates and Recognized Organizations (ROs).
Subject: Authorization for Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC)
Reference: MMC.228 MSC.1/Circ.1405/Rev.2 MSC.1/Circ.1406/Rev.1 MSC.1/Circ.1333 MSC.1/Circ.1334 MSC.1./Circ. 1443
Resolution No.106-13-DGMM
1. The purpose of this Merchant Marine Circular is to officially communicate that on April 4th, 2012 was published in the Official Gazette, the Resolution No.106-13-DGMM, dated March 8th, 2012, whereby the
Panama Maritime Authority establishes requirements for the Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) to meet, in order to become authorized by this Administration. This Resolution will enter into force on October 3rd, 2012. This has now changed to 3rd January 2013.
2. This Administration encourages all Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) to comply with the requirements listed on Resolution No.106-13- DGMM to be able to offer their services of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel onboard Panamanian flagged vessels. For the English version of Res.No.106-13-DGMM.
3. The Applications from the Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) must be submitted to the Directorate General of Merchant Marine through a Legal Representative in Panama.
4. The Panama Maritime Authority shall not issue authorizations for vessels contracting services from companies which are not duly authorized by this Administration after October 3rd. In the meantime all authorizations to carry armed personnel will be issued following the guidelines listed in our MMC 228.

1. This Circular has the purpose to inform users, according to Merchant Marine Circular MMC-243, about the list of Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSC) authorized by this Administration to offer their services as Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel onboard Panamanian flagged vessels transiting High Risk Areas.
2. The Panama Maritime Authority has recognized the following company as PMSC:


3. Each Private Maritime Security Company authorized should notify by formal letter or mail and also submit the required documents to the Maritime Ships Security Department of any inclusion or changes in armed personnel or inventory of weapons, according to requirements established in Resolution 106-13- DGMM ; Article Fourth, Number Fifth.
4. This Administration encourages all Private Maritime Security Companies to meet the requirements established in Resolution No. 106-13-DGMM by October 3rd, 2012 as the latest, in order to get approval for offering their services of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel for Panamanian flagged vessels.
5. All Panamanian flagged vessels contracting Authorized Private Maritime Security Companies only need to submit Bilateral Agreement duly signed by PMSC and vessels representative and passport copies of Authorized Armed Security Personnel in order grant authorization from Flag State each time they need Armed Security on board.




Friday, but the attack was repelled after the ship’s armed security returned fire, according to naval officials.

The attack, which officials say is likely to be piracy related, was the first such incident to take place in the Horn of Africa region so far this year.

The European Union’s Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) confirmed today that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs with armed men today at 0030 local time approximately 160 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.

According to the report on the incident, the skiffs approached the MT Leopard Sun from the stern and fired shots at the ship, at which point the ship’s Private Armed Security Team returned fire with warning shots. The attack lasted approximately 20 minutes before the skiffs eventually turned away.

The 50,000 metric tonne chemical tanker was en route from Sohar, Sultanate of Oman to Cape Town, South Africa when the incident occurred.

EU NAVFOR has confirmed that the vessel and crew are safe, and they are in contact with the shipping company and the ship’s master to further assess the incident. The crew’s use of the full range of Best Management Practices (BMP4) as well as the actions of the embarked private armed security team (PAST) are being credited with saving the ship.

“It is clear the ship, crew and the security team demonstrated a very high standard of self-protection protocols in line with BMP4. The reporting of the incident to UKMTO/ EU NAVFOR MSCHOA was exemplary in both speed and detail, including the damage to the ship from gunfire from the skiffs,” the EU NAVFOR said in its report.

Following the attack, the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) issued navigation warnings and alerts to inform both mariners and merchant vessels in the High Risk Area.

“Merchant vessels in the proximity of the location where the incident took place have been warned directly of the existence of a potential Pirate Action Group (PAG),” EU NAVFOR said in its report. “EU NAVFOR and CMF together with military partners will continue to coordinate their understanding and response to this incident.”

The attack on the Leopard Sun marks piracy incident since the British-owned containership Ever Dynamic was chased and fired upon with rocket-propelled grenades off the coast of Somalia in November 2017. The suspected pirates in that case were later captured by an Italian warship, and have since been charged with piracy related crimes in the Seychelles. The six suspects, if convicted, could face up to 30 years in jail.

Secure A Ship are pleased to announce they have obtained ISO28007, 18001, 14001 & 9001 certification.

This adds to the approval by SHELL, CARGILL, MAERSK & EXXON.

We are also approved by Panama, Cyprus, Luxembourg and all convenient flag states.

Further to the Maritime Security Alert regarding the hijacking of the Indian dhow AL KAUSAR off Socotra Island issued on 03/04/2017, the following information has been released:

Somali security forces have rescued the vessel off the coast of Hin-Barwaaqo village, located south of Hobyo.

The pirates reportedly abandoned the vessel after elders warned them that security forces are approaching and planning an operation to seize the vessel.

Only two crewmembers were found on board, with the remaining nine reported missing.

The pirates are believed to be holding the nine crewmember’s hostage on land.

03 April 2017, 0530 UTC
Description: A merchant vessel reported being approached by six light blue skiffs with five POB on each skiff. Ladders and hooks were sighted. The vessel raised the alarm and the armed guards took up position on bridge wings. After 2-3 minutes the suspicious skiffs aborted their approach. The vessel is reported as safe.

01 April 2017, 0000 UTC (time is approximate)
Description: A dhow with 11 crewmembers on board was hijacked off Socotra whilst en route from Dubai to Bosaso. The vessel was subsequently taken to Eyl coast, Somalia. The perpetrators have demanded a ransom and are reportedly still on board the hijacked vessel. Time and location are approximate.

Further to the Maritime Security Alert regarding a hijack off Eyl, Somalia issued on 24/03/2017, the following information has been released:
UKMTO confirmed the hijack of a fishing vessel. The vessel is believed to have been hijacked to be used as a Mother Ship for future attacks on larger vessels.
According to Reuters, the pirates released the Yemeni crew and Somali guard inland before disappearing with the vessel holding the cook, the captain and the engineer hostage.

SECURE A SHIP is committed to providing the highest quality services with the utmost transparency, integrity and accountability.

We take any complaints or concerns, whether from customers or third parties affected by our services, extremely seriously and will always aim to deal with them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each complaint will be dealt with by a member of the legal department at the Hereford Office.

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An interesting week on the water. We begin with the main news, which is the end of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, the anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean. While NATO only maintained a couple of vessels in the region, their withdrawal will certainly be felt by shipping at a time when new threats have emerged in the region. It remains to be seen whether a reduced naval presence will embolden the local pirates and criminals.

Staying in the region, Kenyan security officials are boosting coastal security in the wake of threats from al Shabaab terrorists to kidnap tourists. Previously, Somali pirates had kidnapped foreign nationals from resorts such as Lamu.
Closer to home, it has emerged that the British Royal Navy isn’t just short on firepower, it’s sorely lacking in platforms, too. It’s all a little embarrassing, really.

Iran, meanwhile, is busy building new naval bases on its coast. That will certainly please the US and Saudi Arabia…

In West Africa, the Nigerian Navy has ended an operation in the Delta, only to see a spate of incidents occur the moment they turned their backs. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Finally, in Southeast Asia, the German man kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists has made a video pleading for his ransom to be paid, while various people affiliated with the group have made demands for payment. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

David Rider