PH-flagged ships could soon have armed personnel


The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) is expected to allow engagement of armed personnel on board international-going Philippine-flagged vessels in a bid to prevent pirate attacks.

The Philippine register has about 140 international-going vessels, 90% of which pass through pirate-infested areas such as the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and the Somali basin.

“We are adhering to the clamor of our overseas shipping operators to engage the services of armed personnel to protect not only the people on board but most especially their asset and cargo on it,” Marina administrator Emerson Lorenzo said.

Marina will propose a circular that provides security personnel can only be activated when lives on board the ship are threatened. The security personnel may also only board the vessel at a pre-determined port when the vessel is on its way to pirate-infested waters.

The Philippines is looking at establishing an accreditation program for armed security personnel.

Marina said vessel operators may choose to hire armed personnel from any service provider of their choice, not just from the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard in cooperation with the private sector is also embarking on anti-piracy training of armed security personnel for possible deployment on board Philippine-flagged international-going vessels.

Pirate attacks on the world’s seas totaled 266 in the first six months of 2011, up from 196 in the same period last year. More than 60% of the attacks were by Somali pirates, most of whom operated in the Arabian Sea.

As of last week, Somali pirates were holding 16 vessels and 301 crew and demanding ransom in the millions of dollars.


Photo by Teknorat