Concern is mounting over weapons that are allegedly being loaned unlawfully between security companies providing armed escorts on ships, increasing risks for shipowners and operators.

Documents seen by TradeWinds appear to show regulations are being broken, although the situation remains clouded because laws, rules and enforcement differs between countries and flags.

Breaching weapons’ end-user certificates (EUC) can invalidate vessel insurance and could lead to ships being delayed or detained.

Shipowners’ association Bimco has told members of its serious concerns over the loan of weapons and has urged owners to scrutinise contracts when employing armed guards.