October 30, 2003

ISPS certification crisis ahead?

Lloyd's Register says that, as of October 21, 2003, fewer than 10 ships in the entire world fleet had obtained International Ship Security Certicates.

It is now over ten months since the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code and there are only nine months remaining before the mandatory compliance date of July 1, 2004, says Lloyd's Register.

This means that more than half the total time available for the development and approval of Shipboard Security Plans (SSPs) and verification of their effective implementation has elapsed.

"Contrary to the expectations of some in the industry," warns Lloyd's Register, "IMO has not considered granting any extensions or exemptions for compliance, and there are no indications that it will. And previous experience of the approach to the implementation of the ISM Code suggests that the deadline will not be changed.

This has enormous implications for owners and operators:

Up to 30,000 ships must be certificated during the next nine months--in other words, an average of 123 SSPs must be approved and verified every day, seven days a week, between November 1, 2003 and July 1, 2004! Every day that passes without that rate of certification being achieved, makes matters worse.

The time is rapidly approaching, says Lloyd's Register, when the combined resources of the flag states and recognized security organisations will be unable to provide approval and verification services at the rate necessary to ensure full compliance as the deadline approaches, companies will find themselves competing for scarce approval and verification resources that are inevitably allocated to those who request them first.

It would be a serious mistake for companies to believe that the implementation deadline of July 1, 2004, means that everyone has until that date to obtain the certification. The available resources will be outstripped well before that date. Those ships left without ISPS certification will be denied entry to the ports of contracting governments, which in effect will prevent them from trading.

"The only way to make sure that you achieve compliance on time is to apply as soon as possible," says Lloyd's Register, which says it "will do all it can to help companies achieve compliance, "but we can't do it alone. Help us to help you by preparing for certification early."

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