The BIMCO subcommittee which drafted the new contract was made up of representatives from shipowners and operators, private maritime security companies (PMSC), maritime risk consultants, P&I Clubs (including the Standard Club) and law firms.
The new contract is dubbed SEV-GUARDCON as it is based on BIMCO’s GUARDCON contract and adopts a balanced contractual framework for SEVs that accompany merchant ships in high risk areas such as the Gulf of Guinea. Whilst the new contract has been prepared with the particular regard to maritime security position in the Gulf of Guinea, it has been designed to be capable of being used world-wide.
Under the new contract, it is intended that a ship owner will contract with a PMSC who in turn will engage local security personnel especially in the context of operating in, say, Nigerian waters.
The contract deals with key issues such as the role of the maritime liaison officer, the arrangements for the rendezvous and release of the SEV and the minimum capability requirements of the SEV. The contract allows for single or multiple transits, including cross-border transits where a SEV is needed to accompany a ship through the exclusive economic zone or territorial waters of more than one state.
The structure of SEV-GUARDCON mirrors GUARDCON wherever possible to ensure familiarity, including, for example, the insurance provisions. The liabilities and indemnities clauses reflect that SEV-GUARDCON covers the services provided via a PMSC for the provision of an independently operated SEV as opposed to a security team carried on board the merchant ship.
Further details are provided on the BIMCO website.
How to avoid piracy and armed robbery incidents
Members with ships who may transit high risk areas are strongly encouraged to comply fully with all the recommended best management practice (BMP) planning, voyage and reporting procedures. The BMP are kept under review and version 5 reflects practical lessons learned by the industry and by the military regarding effective methods to deter and defend against piracy.
Guidance is also available specifically in relation to West Africa following the publication of BMP West Africa. Whilst the use of SEVs is not specifically endorsed in BMP West Africa, the practice is recognised and some useful guidance is provided in relation to engaging SEV services. BMP West Africa includes some general fundamental requirements when trading in this area, including:
Understanding the threat by obtaining current threat information
Conducting risk assessments
Implementing ship protection measures
Registering and reporting with Maritime Domain Awareness Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GOG)
Cooperating with local naval and military forces.
How the club can assist
The club has an internal team which focusses on maritime security. The team regularly produce articles and updates on maritime security trends and issues on the club’s website. A representative of this team sits on the International Group’s (IG) maritime security subcommittee and actively participates in discussions on maritime security issues including but not limited to piracy and armed robbery at sea, and the provision of club cover. For example, with the club’s participation, the IG’s FAQs on piracy were updated in 2019 to reflect various developments since the previous version was published in 2013.
Whilst the first few months of 2021 saw a decrease in the number of piracy and armed robbery incidents, there was a noticeable uptick in incidents towards the end of the year. Members are reminded that third-party P&I liabilities arising out of incidents of piracy will, provided the ‘weapons of war’ or terrorism exclusions are not triggered, be covered by the club. However, ransom is not a risk which is expressly covered under a member’s P&I entry but cover may be available on a discretionary basis. Similarly, fees and expenses incurred in connection with ransom negotiation may only be covered on a discretionary basis. One issue relevant to the exercise of that discretion is the availability of alternative insurance. With this in mind, kidnap and ransom (K&R) cover for shipowner members transiting high risk piracy zones is available in the market and also via the club’s War Risk team. Members are strongly encouraged to consider taking out K&R cover where appropriate.
Source: Standard Club