GULF OFFSHORE 2002
June 5 & 6, 2002
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May 28, 2002

IMO sets the stage for ISPS

Shipowners who are still digesting the complexities of such things as ISM and STCW will soon have to start wrestling with the demands of a new IMO-required code: ISPS. That's the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code.

IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has continued the detailed preparatory work for the diplomatic conference on maritime security that is to be held at IMO in December, to the point, says an IMO statement "where confidence for a successful outcome to the conference is high."

However, the MSC has agreed to the convening of a second intersessional working group on the subject, to be held September 9-13 2002.

The most far-reaching proposal is the ISPS Code which would be implemented through SOLAS chapter XI.

The code would have two parts, one mandatory and the other recommendatory.

In essence, says IMO, the code takes the approach that ensuring the security of ships and port facilities is basically a risk management activity and that to determine what security measures are appropriate, an assessment of the risks must be made in each particular case.

The purpose of the code is to provide a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities.

To begin the process, says IMO, each contracting government would conduct port facility security assessments.

Security assessments would have three essential components.

First, they must identify and evaluate important assets and infrastructures that are critical to the port facility as well as those areas or structures that, if damaged, could cause significant loss of life or damage to the port facility’s economy or environment. 

Then, the assessment must identify the actual threats to those critical assets and infrastructure in order to prioritize security measures. 

Finally, the assessment must address vulnerability of the port facility by identifying its weaknesses in physical security, structural integrity, protection systems, procedural policies, communications systems, transportation infrastructure, utilities, and other areas within a port facility that may be a likely target. Once this assessment has been completed, Contracting Government can accurately evaluate risk.

This risk management concept would be embodied in the Code through a number of minimum functional security requirements for ships and port facilities.

For ships, these requirements would include:

  • ship security plans
  • ship security officers
  • company security officers
  • certain onboard equipment

For port facilities, the requirements would include:

  • port facility security plans
  • port facility security officers

In addition the requirements for ships and for port facilities include:

  • monitoring and controlling access
  • monitoring the activities of people and cargo
  • ensuring security communications are readily available


To ensure implementation of all these new requirements, training and drills will naturally play an important role, says IMO.

Because each ship (or class of ship) and each port facility present different risks, the method in which they will meet the specific requirements of this code "will be determined and eventually be approved by the Administration or Contracting Government, as the case may be," says IMO.

In order to communicate the threat at a port facility or for a ship, the contracting government would set the appropriate security level.  Security levels 1, 2, and 3 correspond to low, medium, and high threat situations, respectively.  The security level creates a link between the ship and the port facility, since it triggers the implementation of appropriate security measures for the ship and for the port facility. 

The draft preamble to the code states that, as threat increases, the only logical counteraction is to reduce vulnerability.  The code provides several ways to reduce vulnerabilities. Ships would be subject to a system of survey, verification, certification, and control to ensure that their security measures are implemented.  This system would be based on a considerably expanded control system as stipulated in the Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Port facilities would also be required to report certain security related information to the Contracting Government concerned, which in turn would submit a list of approved port facility security plans, including location and contact details to IMO.

Among a number of other security-related items addressed, the committee agreed:

• four alternative texts, for the Maritime Security Conference to consider, that would accelerate the introduction of automatic identification systems for ships by amending SOLAS regulation V/19.2.4.

• the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XI, for the Maritime Security Conference to consider, with a view to consideration and formal adoption; these amendments would create two parts to chapter XI, on dealing with safety matters and the other with security issues.

• to approve for circulation to the Maritime Security Conference the text of mandatory Part A of the new draft International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and the proposed recommendatory Part B on guidance of the draft ISPS Code with a view to consideration and formal adoption;

• to approve a number of draft Conference resolutions for circulation to the Maritime Security Conference

• to request Member Governments and international organizations concerned to consider, at home, the draft performance standards for a ship security alarm installation and to advise their MSC 76 delegations accordingly so that the performance standards may be adopted at that session and promulgated by means of an MSC Circular.


• to request the IMO Secretary-General to communicate with Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization concerning the co-ordination of that Organization’s work and that of IMO, in particular with regard to container security


• to approve draft functional requirements for a long-range tracking and identification system for submission to NAV 48 and to instruct the Sub-Committee to advise the maritime security conference accordingly




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