Floating Armouries and the law
While no laws, regulations or internationally agreed guidance specifically address FAs at the moment, a variety of laws do apply to them.
FAs are legally indistinguishable from other vessels, and are therefore bound by the same rules that would govern the carriage of weapons by any merchant or government ship operated for commercial purposes.
Port, coastal and flag state jurisdiction may be exercised over FAs on various matters, including beyond the territorial sea of any states in some cases.
The vessel, the armoury, the services it provides, the services it facilitates and the people involved are all constrained in some way by a mix of international, national and soft law instruments.
In This Section
No international body regulates or evaluates the security of floating armouries.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) could implement regulations and standards, for example, the International Small Arms Control Standards, which provide guidelines on stockpile management of weapons that may be applicable to floating armouries.
No storage capacity regulations of floating armouries or limits on the quantity of arms and ammunition that can be stored onboard.
Pressure groups want individual governments and multi-lateral organisations to adopt the following measures to better regulate the use of floating armouries:
- Conduct an international in-depth study into the number of floating armouries currently operating.
- Create a central registry listing the names and IMO registration numbers of all floating armouries, their flag state, owner/manager and insurer.
- Mandatory registration of the quantity of arms and ammunition permitted to be stored on board each named vessel.
- Require insurance companies to undertake regular, unannounced compliance checks and track armoury operator details and the PMSCs that use them. They should require a copy of the correct documentation to store arms and ammunition on board.
- Mandate and appoint an international body such as the IMO to review existing control measures that can be adapted to regulate, monitor and inspect armouries.
- Enforce strict regulations relating to record keeping and sanction investigations and prosecutions for any transgressions
- Mandate that all operators of floating armouries must hold ISO 28000 and ISO/PAS 28007 certification.
- Governments who have given permission for PMSC floating armouries immediately revoke permission for vessels flagged to Paris MOU or Tokyo MOU ‘black listed’ countries.
- Governments who have given permission for PMSCs to use floating armouries release information on the armouries used, the companies that use them and the names of the companies that operate them.
- Floating armouries are flagged to their operating company’s country of registration and not under a flag of convenience.
- Introduction of standards governing floating armouries
- Countries develop a certification process to show that PMSCs have the necessary documentation to use arms and ammunition.
- Procedures are introduced to ensure that if a PMSC or armoury operator goes into administration that any weapons and ammunition are securely stored and subsequently destroyed.