Maritime Security Comes of Age

There’s a new international standard that raises the bar for PMSCs.

In recent years, the number of companies offering protective services to the global shipping industry has increased at an astonishing pace. This surge in service providers has also seen a number of less-than-able companies enter the market and attempt to undercut more established players by slashing prices, using sharp practices or making false claims.

Cost vs. Quality

Until recently, legitimate private maritime security companies (PMSCs) had no alternative but to take it on the chin and enter a price war with companies they knew to be inferior on a number of levels. For prospective clients, this initially meant artificially low prices. But the lack of transparency and regulation in the industry also set nerves on edge.

In a cost-driven industry, shipping companies have always had to keep a weather eye on the bottom line, and maritime security has unfortunately become a necessary expense for those operating vessels in the world’s various High Risk Areas (HRA). It’s hardly surprising, then, that a number of security companies should offer their services at rates which the bigger or more established companies just couldn’t match. The downside, of course, was that those same companies weren’t necessarily of the same standard as their rivals.

Horror stories about security guards using World War 2-era weapons or simple shotguns to guard merchant ships became prevalent. The industry had to clean house somehow. Although various professional bodies were formed in an attempt to present a unified face to the world – including the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) and the International Association of Maritime Security Professionals (IAMPS) – a wider housecleaning was definitely called for in the shape of recognized international standards and regulation.

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