Peter Cook, Maritime Security Consultant for UNODC (the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), invited Robin Townsend, Director and Principal Security Consultant for Marprof Ltd to a meeting in London to discuss studies presently underway at the UNODC.

Of particular interest is the situation with Floating Armouries.  Whilst the absolute number of these vessels in the world is not large, their importance, and criticality in the proper functioning of anti-pirate operations is undoubted. The problems when any part of the system break down can have enormous repercussions, as the recent events with the ship ‘Seaman Guard Ohio’ have shown.

The ability for individual nations to implement effective regulation applicable globally, in transit, in port visits and in International waters is extremely limited and the potential for IMO or other UN agency to achieve complete alignment across all the needs of member states in such a complex arena, to achieve treaty agreement, is problematic.  In the case of armed guards on commercial ships, ISO standards (28007) were able to satisfy all nation’s requirements by setting a recognised framework, which then called on the individual nation’s needs as applicable individually.  Floating armouries may be another area where ISO can set the framework so that the owners and operators can properly demonstrate that they have fulfilled all their legal obligations and can be used faithfully by companies trying to protect seafarers and cargoes from pirates.