(TALLINN, Estonia) — The Panama Maritime Authority has accredited ESC Global Security personnel to offer protection aboard Panamanian-registered vessels, in what is thought to mark the first private maritime security companies (PMSC) license issued under the new Panama administration.
Jaanus Rahumägi, ESC’s founding CEO and president, said: “This is a significant milestone for both ESC and Panama, since it is the first license to be issued following the Panama government’s review of the PMSC application process.”
During December 2014, a new set of rules including a new license fee for PMSCs was introduced whereby failure to comply would result in the revocation or suspension of a security company’s operating license. The new rules also include more stringent requirements for the registration of armed guards and the way in which private maritime security companies are audited.
The new Panamanian rules are in place to ensure security companies are in compliance with or go beyond the requirements outlined by the IMO in Resolution MSC.349 (92), which entered into force in January 2015.
“We are very proud to have received this accreditation. Ships operating offshore Somalia, West Africa and the Indonesian archipelago continue to be attacked by pirates and armed criminals, which can result not only in the loss of assets but also in the loss of life. We cannot expect our merchant seamen to be soldiers or to understand the complex rules of engagement in different waters; it’s not their job,” said Rahumägi.
“Crews and ships must be able to go about their business in a safe and secure environment and this accreditation is testament to the first-class professionalism of our security personnel and their ability to ensure the safe, secure transit of the vessels on which they serve.”
In July 2014, ESC Global Security was licensed to provide security services on Belgium-flagged vessels, marking the first PMSC license issued by that country.
Other flag states that have implemented accreditation regimes for PMSCs have also accredited the Estonia-based company including Luxembourg, Cyprus and Croatia. In total, ESC security guards serve on the vessels of over 26 flag states.
The Panama Maritime Authority carried out its first accreditation process between May 2012 and January 2013, before closing the door on new applications. ESC Global Security is one of the first companies to be accredited under the new regime.
Rahumägi said: “The new administration, which took office in June last year, has reviewed the process and all our documents were found to be in order with all fees paid and up to date. We are proud that our company was approved during the first committee meeting of the new regime. We have a 100 percent successful vetting rate by EU flag states and accredited certification for the ISO 28007 license.”
In its Merchant Marine Circular MMC-245, Panama reiterates: “The use of privately contracted armed security personnel should not be considered as an alternative to best management practices (BMP) and other protective measures. It is recommended that BMP be applied throughout the High Risk Area (HRA) and in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and be considered as the first, minimum, preventative option. Placing armed guards onboard as a means to secure and protect the ship and its crew should only be considered after a risk assessment has been carried out.”