- Industry Links
- HCB Shop
Count your arms
Originally published:  01/01/2012
The international shipping industry has had to respond to increasing threats from piracy in the Indian Ocean. One response has been to deploy armed guards, although there are concerns about this approach on several grounds, not least on ships carrying flammable substances. On a purely practical level, the presence of armed guards on vessels also raises issues with port authorities.
The UK P&I Club has alerted its members to an issue in India. One of its members recently issued a claim relating to a Customs violation for misdeclared ammunition belonging to onboard security guards. The member had hired two armed guards from a UK security company; they advised the master of their weapon and ammunition counts, details of which were filed in a timely fashion with Indian Customs prior to arrival.
As it turned out, the information the master had been given was inaccurate. The Indian authorities became aware of the discrepancy and detained the vessel for investigation. Although the master cooperated with the authorities and it soon became clear that the error was unintentional, the Indian authorities levied a fine of $25,000. The member is hoping to recover this from the security contractor, although the cost of the delay will be harder to cover.
The UK P&I Club is encouraging its members to take “all reasonable and appropriate steps” to ensure that declarations of the amount of ammunition and number of arms onboard are accurate.