Cyprus is the third biggest maritime navy in the EU and the tenth biggest fleet in the world.
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Generally speaking, Cyprus is a strategic market leader for many reasons. Firstly, it is located at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Asia and Africa. Secondly, Cyprus provides double tax treaties with 45 countries and bilateral agreements of cooperation in merchant shipping along with 23 countries. Thirdly, the low setup and operating costs for businesses and liberal foreign direct expenditure regime. Finally, the VAT exemption for international transport services just in case the effective use and pleasure of the services take place outside the EUROPEAN.
Since Cyprus is a market head in ship management, maritime security and safety is a highly important issue. This particular issue has been extensively addressed by the Protection of Cyprus Ships Against Works of Piracy and Other Unlawful Works Law 2012, published in the Formal Gazette on 15th June 2012. The law denotes a new era in protection for ships flying the Cyprus flag against security risks. Furthermore, the law reinforces maritime security and is based on advice and proposals of the International Maritime Organisation.
The Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) has issued detailed instructions regarding maritime security regarding ships flying the Cyprus flag.
Piracy plus Unlawful Acts
The law covers several potential security issues such as piracy and “unlawful acts”. The term “unlawful acts” is defined as “an act or even suspicious act or circumstance which usually, by its nature or framework, threatens the security of the ship or may cause damage to the ship in order to the persons on board or the cargo”.
Examples of unlawful acts covered by the law:
seizure of control of the deliver (including acts of piracy)
doing acts of violence against a person on board the ship or leading to death or injury
damage to or destruction of the ship or its cargo
placement on board the ship of a device which may damage or destroy the ship, its freight or bodily harm the individuals onboard
abduction, detention or hostage taking of one or more persons onboard
theft or transportation out of the deliver of certain items (portable products or outfitting, documents, supplies, tools or of parts of the ship or of personal property/money belonging to people onboard)
exercise or threat associated with violence or commissioning of any of the above
transmission of information that may assist in commissioning or attempted commissioning of anyone of the above acts.
Maritime Security: Obligation and Rights
Legislation articulates that ships flying the Cyprus flag are subjected to apply obligatory security measures when sailing through high-risk zones. These steps should be applied in addition to the provisions of SOLAS Chapter XI-2, ISPS Program code and Regulation (EC) No . 725/2004, for establishing and preserving the security of the ship and averting “unlawful acts”.
The master and operator of the ship are obliged to consider necessary measures for the safety from the ship and avert “unlawful acts”. Moreover, they are obliged to carry out the additional protective measures, when the deliver faces a risk or is within a high-risk area.
The owner of a ship flying the Cyprus flag must submit to the DMS an application requesting a certificate which will be issued to permit the boarding associated with private security personnel and the make use of by them of firearms or even other equipment in high-risk specific zones.
the name and complete details of the ship, such as type, call sigh and ship’s id number
full details of the private security company it wishes to engage
a detailed risk assessment and explanation of security measures which will be performed
a description of firearms and the equipment required to be used
places, port, port facilities, sea area plus dates of embarkation and disembarkation of the security company
places plus dates of the loading and unloading of firearms and other equipment
explanation of the itinerary of the ship
a copy of the written private contract with the ship security company which has been signed or the ship’s operator has an intention to sign
The authorization will be granted under the conditions the fact that request is justified by reference to the security assessment, and the security workers will be specially licensed by the federal government to provide this kind of services.
Furthermore, the ship operator is obliged to ensure that the security company he engages has a valid license, adequate indemnity insurance plan and that all guards can communicate with the master and crew. In addition , the contents of the contracts agreed upon by the operator of the ship as well as the private ship security company should include:
a. details of all security guards
b. details of authorised guns or other special equipment to be used
c. conditions allowing the use of guns and special equipment.
d. processes to be followed to amend any of the matters a-c.
According to the law, the particular private ship security companies must submit an application to the DMS to obtain a license allowing them to provide services of disarmed or armed personnel to Cyprus ships.
The application will be examined by DMS. If the request is approved, then the relevant certificate will be released. In other words, the company is permitted to offer security services in compliance with the governing regulations. The Courts of Cyprus will administer all actions of licensed private ship safety company in Cyprus and the DMS must approve all persons employed by this kind of companies.
The law provides a group of rights for the personnel on board, like the right for self-defense, the right to arrest and detain an individual intending to make or has committed an illegal act, and the right to impound arms and equipment of individuals attempting to or have committed an unlawful act.
Responsibility to report
The master and the operator of the ship have the obligation to report immediately to the DMS any unlawful act or try to commit an unlawful act and supply relevantly and full information towards the DMS in regards to that act. Additionally , the operator is directly appreciated to inform and keep updated the relatives of hostages and those injured due to an unlawful act.