Who is in charge of armed guards?


The question arises in blog and press: “Who controls armed guards on board?” On the one hand, the contracted security business culture requires taking control of matters as the team leader sees it by brandishing guns,making loud noises, dancing choreographed skits and shouting in sing-song jargon.

The business occasionally conflates internal discipline with control by lawful authority.

On the other hand, vessels,masters and armed guards are creatures of law. A vessel under a flag is an extra-territorial chattel of the flag state and by law it is administered by the master who is the warrantee of the flag state.

This is a sovereign matter of delegation of authority and responsibility to the master—not to armed guards.

The status of armed guards may be of three kinds. Armed guards may be put on board: (1) as seafarers on the crew list as any other seafarers; (2) as riding crew; or (3) as the expression of the powers of a sovereign as boarding military or civil persons.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© John A. C. Cartner, Cartner & Fiske, LLC | Attorney Advertising

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