What is ISPS Code – (International Ship and Port Facility Security Code)

ISPS Code is International Ship and Port Facility Security Code an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention (1974/1988) on Maritime security including minimum security arrangements for ships, ports and government agencies. Having come into force in 2004, it prescribes responsibilities to governments, shipping companies, shipboard personnel, and port/facility personnel to “detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities used in international trade.”

Full Form of ISPS Code is International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

Before the ISPS code, the SOLAS primary focus was the safety of the ship at sea. As security and safety are entirely different topics, new amendments were made in SOLAS and the Chapter XI, which contains measures to enhance maritime safety, by renaming to Chapter XI-1 and a new Chapter XI-2 was added with additional focus on maritime security.

The ISPS code was implemented by IMO on July 1st 2004 as a comprehensive set of measurements for international security by prescribing responsibilities to a government authority, port authority, shipping companies and seafarers.

It applies to the ships doing international voyages which include passenger ships & cargo ships of 500 GT and above.

History – ISPS Code

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) states that “The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States” (IMO).

Development and implementation were sped up drastically in reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks and the bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg. The U.S. Coast Guard, as the lead agency in the United States delegation to the IMO, advocated for the measure. The Code was agreed at a meeting of the 108 signatories to the SOLAS convention in London in December 2002. The measures agreed under the Code were brought into force on July 1, 2004.

Aim/Objective of ISPS Code

  • To monitor the activity of people and cargo operation
  • To detect the different security threats onboard vessel and in port and implement the measure as per the situation
  • To provide a security level to the ship and derive various duties and functions at the different security level
  • To establish the respective roles and responsibilities of the contracting governments, agencies, local administrations and the shipping and port industries
  • To build and implement roles and responsibilities for port state officer and onboard officers to tackle maritime security threat at the international level
  • To collect data from all over the maritime industry concerning security threats and implementing ways to tackle the same
  • To ensure the exchange of collected security-related information data with worldwide port and ship owners network
  • To provide a methodology for security assessments so as to have in place plans and procedures to react to changing security levels
  • To find the shortcomings in the ship security and port security plan and measure to improve them
  • All security-related data shared with the general public, the international port, and ship owners.
  • Assessment of the flaws in the industry and necessary solutions for each issue.

Purpose of ISPS Code

The primary objective of the ISPS Code is to provide a standardized, consistent global framework across the maritime world. This will enable the countries that have subscribed to the code to evaluate, detect and assess the security risks to the ships calling at their ports and take appropriate measures to determine the security levels they must follow and the related security/preventive measures to be taken.

  • to institute respective roles and responsibilities of all parties (governments and government agencies subscribed to the code, port administration, and the shipping and port agencies) concerned, at a global and domestic level, to ensuring maritime security
  • to exchange/share relevant security-related information
  • to assure shipowners that adequate and proportionate maritime security measures are in place for their ships

ISPS Code Meaning for Ships:

The cargo ships are vulnerable to security threats as they hardly carry any weapon of protection in case of a real attack. Piracy, terrorist attack, stowaways etc. are real-time threats haunting the ship and its crew. Improved ship security will be required in order to identify and take preventive measures against such security incidents.

The administration is responsible for reviewing and approving a ship security plan for the ship, which will also include any amendments of old plans etc.

The company must train its officer for ship security officer certification and the assessment of the ship security will be carried onboard by these certified officers only. The timely assessment of the ship security plan (SSP) by a certified officer is essential for finding shortcomings and enhancing the current SSP.

The ship security assessment shall be documented, reviewed, accepted and retained by the company. Every ship must carry an approved ship security plan approved by the Administration.

ISPS Code for Vessels Includes :

Company Security Officer ( CSO )

CSO is a company appointed person, who is responsible for the ship security assessment and for the onboard survey to confirm the development and implementation of the ship security plan as per ISPS code. If any deficiency occurs, CSO is responsible to deal with all the non-conformities and to modify SSP as per the deficiency.

Ship Security Officer ( SSO )

SSO is the i- charge of security of the vessel onboard and responsible for the other entire crew member to carry out duties for ship security as per ISPS code. SSO is responsible for carrying out frequent drills for ISPS Code as per SSP.

Ship Security Plan ( SSP )

It is a plan kept onboard vessel mentioning the duty of crew members at different security levels and the do’s and don’ts at a different type of security threats. SSO is responsible under CSO to implement ship security plan onboard vessel.

Ship Security Alert System

Different types of security equipment are kept onboard which includes a metal detector for checking the person entering the vessel. From July 2004, most of the ship has installed the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) as per ISPS norms which do not sound on the ship but alarm the shore authority about the security threat.

Implementing ISPS Security Level

It’s the responsibility of SSO to implement the security level onboard complying with the security level set by the local government authorities. Also, a continuous response is to be made to Port state when the security level is “level 3”.

Security levels of ISPS code

The ISPS Code consists of two parts & three levels of security.

The parts of the ISP’s code are:

  • Part A – These are mandatory provisions that talk about the employment of security officers in the shipping companies, their ships, and port facilities that they call.
    • This also covers various security matters that need to be considered in preparing security plans for the ships and port facilities.
  • Part B – These are recommendatory provisions providing guidance and recommendations on how the security plans must be prepared and implemented.

The local port authority implements the security levels under consultation with the government authorities. The security level adopted by the port facility must be coordinated with the ship for synergy.

Levels of Security in ISPS Code (MARSEC levels)

Maritime Security (MARSEC) levels were constructed for quick communication from the ship to the U.S Coast Guard for different levels of threats aboard or ashore. The three security levels listed below are introduced by the ISPS Code.

MARSEC Level 1is the normal level that the ship or port facility operates at on a daily basis. Level 1 ensures that security personnel maintain minimum appropriate security 24/7.
MARSEC Level 2is a heightened level for a time period during a security risk that has become visible to security personnel. Appropriate additional measures will be conducted during this security level
MARSEC Level 3will include additional security measures for an incident that is forthcoming or has already occurred that must be maintained for a limited time frame. The security measure must be attended to although there might not be a specific target that has yet been identified.

Notes: Security level 3 should be applied only when there is reliable information given for that particular security threat that is probable or at hand. Security level 3 must be set for a timed duration for the identified security incident. Although the security levels will change from security level 1 to security level 2 and to security level 3, it is highly possible for the security levels to change drastically from security level 1 to security level 3.

ISPS Code for Port Facilities Includes:

Port Facility Security Officer ( PFSO )

PFSO is a Government-appointed officer responsible for implementing PFSP and to derive security levels for port and vessel berthing at their jetty. He is responsible to conduct a port facility security assessment.

Port Facility Security Plan ( PFSP )

It includes the plans and action to be taken at different security levels. Roles and responsibilities are included in PFSP. Action to be taken at the time of any security breach is described in PFSP.

Security Equipment

Minimum security equipment like scanner and metal detector etc. must be available at all times with the port facility to avoid the breach of security inside the port.

Implementing Security Level

Security levels are implemented by the port authority under the consultation of a local government authority. The security level adopted for the port facility must be informed to vessel administration for cooperative measures.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *