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June 11, 2002

Details of ISPS requirements start to emerge

Compliance with the ISM (International Safety Management) Code has already given most shipowners considerable problems. Compliance with the revised STCW requirements is still proving problematical. Soon shipowners will be struggling with a new mandatory code, ISPS, that is likely to prove just as challenging to implement as ISM or STCW.

Maritime transportation is a prime potential target for terrorism. ISPS (International Ship and Port Facilties Security Code) is among measures being developed by IMO, the International Maritime Organization, to enhance maritime security.

At the May 15-24 meeting of IMO's Maritime Security Committee significant progress appears to have been made in drafting the code. However, further refinements will be made in September by a special working group. After that, the code will be among security measures considered by a diplomatic conference in London in December. All the signs are that it will sail through, in one form or another.

What will ISPS require? The May MSC meeting approved new draft SOLAS Convention regulations and ISPS code sections requiring passenger vessels, cargo vessels over 500 gt and mobile offshore drilling units to develop ship security plans with requirements that address:

  • measures to prevent introduction of weapons,
  • identification of shipboard restricted areas,
  • procedures for responding to security threats,
  • evacuation procedures
  • new shipboard security duties,
  • auditing, training and drill procedures.

The code will create a new position, the ship's security officer, responsible for implementation of the plan.

A new company security officer will be required to develop and maintain ship security plans, in additionto other duties.

The May meeting also approved a new draft regulation that would give the Master the authority to deny access to the ship for people and to refuse to load cargo, should such actions pose a security threat.

The May meeting also approved a draft SOLAS regulations and ISPS code requirement setting up a system of survey and certification for security requirements. This seems to be one area where work still needs to be done. A point of concern to some delegations at the May meeting--particularly Norway--wass the concept of approving a "recognized security organization," as opposed to a classification society, to perform the required surveys and certifications. However, there is nothing to prevent a classification society from gaining security survey and certification expertise and thus becoming a recognized security organization.

ISPS will be prominent among subjects discussed at our upcoming conference MARITIME LEGISLATION, REGULATION & POLICY, taking place in Washington, DC, September 17 & 18, 2002.

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