Cyprus is one of the most important maritime locations in the world. Precisely, Cyprus is the third biggest maritime fleet in the EU and the tenth biggest fleet in the world. The ideal geographical location of Cyprus between Europe, Asia and Africa and the considerable tax incentives constitute the island a market leader in ship management activities. Shipping is one of the most important sectors of the Cyprus economy. Therefore, maritime security is an essential topic that needs to be addressed. That is to say, it is mandatory for ship-owners to protect their vessels when sailing to dangerous areas.
The Protection of Cyprus Flag Ships from Acts of Piracy and other Unlawful Acts Law (77(I) 2012) provides the necessary legal guidelines for Ship owners, Bareboat Charterers and Ship-managers concerning the measures they need to take when they sail to High-Risk Areas and how they can employ private armed security personnel. In addition, it provides a legal framework concerning the engagement of Private Ship Security Companies (PSSC). It should be mentioned that the Law 77(I)/2012 is applicable internationally.
Security and Protection of the Ships:
The master of the ship and the ship’s operator are obliged to implement the required measures, in accordance with the provisions of SOLAS chapter XI-2, the ISPS Code and Regulation (EC) No. 725/2004 in order to ensure and maintain the security of the vessel and prevent unlawful acts.
According to Section 5(2), the master of the ship, the ship’s personnel and the other individuals on board of the ship may, separately or together, act in order to prevent an unlawful act. In other words, the master of the ship, the ship’s personnel and the other persons on board of the ship, when the ship sails in high-risk areas, may, separately or jointly, use every means so that to prevent an unlawful act that may threaten the security of the ship, or their physical integrity or lives, or may lead to the kidnapping of persons on board the ship.
Duty to Inform the Competent Authority:
The master of the ship and the ship’s operator have the obligation to report immediately to the Competent Authority any unlawful act or attempt to commit an unlawful act and to provide detailed information in regards to that act. In Cyprus, the competent authority is the Department of Merchant Shipping. Furthermore, the operator has to inform and keep updated the relatives of hostages and those injured as a result of an unlawful act.