Call Us Now: +1 (305) 576 4403
Maritime Knowledge – Bringing the ISPS Code into practice

Maritime Knowledge – Bringing the ISPS Code into practice

According to the ISPS Code, all ships must have Ship Security Plan (SSP) on board, including all safety measures to be  applied by the crew at each stage of safety.Also, SSP should demonstrate the restricted areas and provide guidelines for an effective implementation of the Code, with Risk Assessment forms and checklists to be used by key personnel during several activities on board.

Identifying the Key personnel

The key personnel are responsible for the implementation of ISPS requirements on vessels. Designated persons are placed by the company and each of them is committed to act accordingly in order to ensure vessels’ security.

Personnel involved with the implementation of the security requirements onboard are: Company Security Officer (CSO) who is responsible of ISPS implementation within Company and managed fleet; Ship Security Officer (SSO) who is responsible of ISPS and approved Ship Security Plan implementation on board and the; Master who is the ultimate authority on board the ship.

Important tips for effecting implementation

A.   Access Control

Access points of the vessel should at all times be secured and used only for the specific purposes. When pilot ladder or rope ladder is in use weather the vessel is at sea, at anchorage or in port, the embarkation area should be supervised at all times for the period the ladder is in use and further securely folded in its position on completion of its use.

Gangways should, at all times when at anchorage, be heaved up and lowered only when necessary for embarkation/disembarkation. When gangways are lowered a watch shall be positioned by the gangway for supervision and control of embarkation. When at port, whether the gangway is provided by the vessel or by shore side a watch shall be positioned at all times, controlling and logging boarding and disembarkation of persons and crew.

When at anchorage or in port access doors should be limited to a number sufficient of the vessels capability of control and supervision which at the same time will not pose a threat, in the event of an incident, to the safety of the crew and vessel.

Ropes and Chains are particularly vulnerable usually due to lack of supervision and lighting. When at anchorage, anchor chain hawse pipes should be capped and a patrol should be placed to cover the forecastle at regular intervals. When alongside, ropes and springs should be fitted with rat guards, chain hawse pipes capped and a patrol to monitor the areas aft, fore and midship should be appointed with intervals dependent on the security level of the vessel and the probability of an incident/breach occurrence.

When the vessel is at anchorage or at port, a watch is appointed by the Ship Security Officer. The Watchman shall at all times be equipped with a walkie-talkie, a flash light, and Safety clothing. All communication shall be performed via walkie-talkie, the watchman is not to leave his position under any circumstances, unless replaced.

B.  Vessel search

The restricted areas on board and areas surrounding the ship shall be monitored at all times. Such monitoring capabilities may include use of lighting watch-keepers, security guards and deck watches including patrols, and Shore / boat patrols in cooperation with the port facility. The Ship Security Plan should include a “Vessel Search Checklist” to assist the monitoring operations. In order to be easily used by the watch-keepers and patrols, “Vessel Search Checklist” should sort the searching areas, as suggested for example, into three Areas:

Area 1: Accommodation

Area 2: Engine Room Spaces

Area 3: Deck – Holds

At security levels 2 & 3, searches shall be conducted:

  • In accordance with Port Facility requirements (whilst at Port / Anchorage)
  • As per Master’s discretion with respect to partial or full extent of ship’s search
  • As may be instructed by Company

C.  Restricted area control

Any unauthorized presence within restricted areas constitutes a breach of security. Adjoining areas to restricted areas will be manned /patrolled when visitors have authorized access to restricted areas. Any other areas as may be determined by the CSO though the SSA to which access must be restricted to maintain the security of the ship must be taken into consideration.

D.  Stores and deliverables check

The security measures relating to the delivery of ship’s stores should:

  • ensure checking of ship’s stores and package integrity
  • prevent ship’s stores from being accepted without inspection
  • prevent tampering, and
  • prevent ship’s stores from being accepted unless ordered

All stores & provisions are subjected to visual and physical examination, in accordance with the appropriate security level. All stores are subject (when search is ordered) to checks for the presence of weapons, ammunition, incendiary and explosives and narcotic substances.

E.  Documentation Control

Security Controlled Documentation includes but not limited to the following:

  • Ship Security Plan
  • Ship Security Assessment (incorporated in the relevant section of the Ship Security Plan)
  • Continuous Synopsis Records

The Company Security Officer in co-operation with the designated Ship Security Officer is responsible for the periodic review of the Ship Security Plan and the Ship Security Re-Assessment at least once per year. The review of the plan is essential in order to ensure that is suitable for the vessel, crew, cargoes, area of trade etc. The Company Security Officer is responsible to ensure that the forms are available onboard vessel. Furthermore, he is responsible for the issue, revision and distribution of all new or revised forms and the updating of the Controlled Documentation List.

All records produced in support of the Ship Security Plan and which demonstrate either compliance to specified requirements or the effective implementation of the ISPS Code shall be kept in specific files both on board and office. Records should be available to duly authorized Officers of Contracting Governments to verify that the provisions of the SSP are being implemented.

Ship Security Officer and Company Security Officer are responsible to ensure that all data/records produced by Ship Security Plan implementation, ashore and onboard, are retained for a period of at least the Flag Administration’s demand, or five (5) years, whichever comes last.

F.  SSAS regular test

There are two ways of testing the SSAS:

  • Testing of the alert buttons
  • Test transmission

Each flag registry sets the frequency and the way that periodical testing should be occurred. For example, operators and/or owners of the Panamanian registry vessels through the CSO have the responsibility to schedule, -not less than 3 days before- through the platform, the annual tests of SSAS TEST in a period no longer than twelve (12) calendar months. The Republic of the Marshall Islands Maritime Administrator does not receive SSAS alerts directly from any vessel.

The CSO receives and verifies SSAS transmissions. Furthermore, the CSO acknowledges and responds to all test messages directly, ensuring the proper functioning of SSAS equipment and verifying the accuracy of the transmitted data without the need for acknowledgement of receipt by the Administrator. The M.I. Maritime Administrator involves to only those SSAS transmissions that are real alerts on unresolved alerts, which are to be immediately forwarded by the CSO to the administrator.

G.  Drills & briefings/training

Company CSO has attended relevant training courses by a training facility recognized and endorsed by the Administration or an RSO designated by the Administration. It is the Company Security Officer’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate shore-based personnel (including himself) and the designated Ship Security Officer has received appropriate training in accordance with guidance given in the ISPS Code Part B.

All other shipboard personnel and shore-based personnel visiting ships should have sufficient knowledge of and be familiar in accordance with guidance / requirements given in the ISPS Code Part B with relevant provisions of the SSP.

International Register Of Shipping Conducts ISPS Code Training Course, our next session is at Lagos, Nigeria on 29/30 July 2019. For more details and registration of the course, Please contact