Armed guards and flag state rules

Seasonal improvements in weather in the Indian Ocean off the African coast anticipate an increase in pirate activity in the region.  Among the questions regularly asked by Members are regarding the cover and regulatory issues relating to armed guards.

A table of the regulations relating to the use of armed guards aboard merchant ships is published in the Maritime Security & Piracy section of our website.  This table offers guidance on the regulations of 22 different flag states.  For each of these states the table collates regulations relating to the authorisation of arms on board, terms and conditions to be noted in agreements with contracting providers of armed guards, any national official guidance available as well as miscellaneous additional information.

This table is reproduced by kind permission of the International Chamber of Shipping and the European Community Shipowners Association.  We would stress that the situation regarding piracy in the region and the rules and regulations relating to armed guards can change at short notice.  This table is intended as general guidance and not as a substitute for professional advice or consultation with flag state authorities and their representatives.

The Club’s piracy section has been reorganised in an effort to make the information it contains more accessible and easier to reference.  Key references such as the BMP 4 and broad IMO guidance to shipowners on questions of armed guards are placed at the head of this section.

Loss prevention materials and other references are also included there.

Emergency Contacts


If you need to call our offices out of hours and at weekends, click After Office hours for a up to date list of the names of the Duty Executives and their mobile phone numbers. 

Ship Finder


This Ship Finder is updated on a daily basis. Members who need to advise the Club of updates to their recorded ships' details should advise their usual underwriting contact.