Maritime Training

Any idea what a Ship Security Alert System is?

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Although piracy follows a downward trend in the last decade, the threat of sailing in high risk areas still poses a psychological burden for crews. After the 9/11 attacks that changed the world, IMO requires every ship above 500 GT sailing the world’s oceans to have a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) to enhance security. Have you ever wondered what this system is and how it works?
To provide knowledge to those designated to perform duties of CSO, SSO and other security duties on a managerial and operational level and ensure effective implementation of the ISPS Code, explain SSA process, SSP contents and measures per level, weapons recognition, devices, suspects & contingency planning, as per new STCW requirements,International Register Of Shipping (INTLREG) Conducts ISPS Code Training Course. For more details and registration of the course, Please contact

What is a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS)?

The Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), under the ISPS Code, is a system onboard designed to raise the alarm ashore in case of a security threat or security incident, so that help from security forces can be deployed to the scene.

Technically, the SSAS consists of a GPS receiver linked to a transmitter, a power supply, software and activation buttons.

When used, the activation button basically notifies the flag State of the ship without alerting ships or coastal states in the vicinity or giving any indication onboard.

Use of the ship security alert system is a recognition that security is political and requires different response to a distress or emergency onboard,

…IMO notes.

 Where is this alert sent to?

What makes the SSAS unique is the fact that it constitutes a silent ship security alarm system that does not issue any audio-visual signal on the ship or to nearby vessels, not even to security forces nearby.

In contrast, upon activated, the alert is sent directly to the ship owner or an SSAS management company. It is then directed to the ship’s flag state. Some flag administrations even require having direct notification upon activation.

As soon as the flag state is informed, it is obliged to immediately notify the state(s) and the international security centers in the vicinity of the ship’s location.

Then, local state authorities or already deployed antipiracy/antiterrorist forces will be able to provide appropriate military or law-enforcement forces to deal with the menace.

 What information does the SSAS provide?

Upon activated, the Ship Security Alert System sends the following details to the administration:

  1. Name and IMO number of the ship
  2. The Call Sign of the ship
  3. The ship’s position through Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
  4. Date and time of the alert
  5. Maritime Mobile Service Identity.

 Where can we find an SSAS onboard?

Current regulatory framework foresees that there must be at least two security alert buttons onboard the ship, one on the bridge and another one in any other prominent location.

The whole crew onboard must be aware of at least one activation button location.

What happens if the button is pushed by accident?

The ISPS Code mandates that the SSAS activation points must be designed to prevent the unwanted initiation of the ship security alert.

A latch cover secures the button to prevent any accidental operation.

Anyone working in the vicinity of the SSAS button must be notified accordingly not to touch the button.

Once the SSAS button is pressed, the alert will be continuously transmitted to the administration unless it is reset or deactivated.

 What are the key challenges of the SSAS?

Although there are specialized security companies for SSAS monitoring, most shipping organizations for financial reasons prefer to assign a person within the company for this job, known as the Company Security Officer (CSO). This means that a CSO lies with a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders, and the ship crew must feel lucky if he/she is not in the shower or deep asleep.

In addition, it is known that the SSAS will not work in case of failure of main power or fault in the emergency backup power.

And as in any other task onboard, crew familiarization with the button location and the procedures to be followed is vital for cases of real emergency and should not be taken for granted.

About the ISPS Code

Under SOLAS Convention Chapter XI-2, IMO developed the International Ship and Port Facility Code (ISPS Code), a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities.

The Code was adopted on 12 December 2002 on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in United States. ISPS Code came into force on 1st July 2004.

The Code is applicable to all vessels over 500 GRT operating on international trades, as well as the ports that service them.

Among others, the ISPS Code:

  • enables the detection and deterrence of security threats within an international framework
  • establishes roles and responsibilities
  • enables collection and exchange of security information
  • provides a methodology for assessing security
  • ensures that adequate security measures in place.

 Did you know?

The SSAS is the correspondent means of notification with the Emergency Transponder Code 7700 for aircrafts.




The Duties Of Ship Security Officer (SSO)

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A ship security officer (SSO) is an important entity under the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) code. The SSO is a person appointed by the company and the ship’s master for ensuring the security of the ship.

Ship’s security is one of the greatest concerns for every shipping company whose ships ply in international waters. Though there are advanced systems such as ship security alert system (SSAS) and ship security reporting system (SSRS) to enhance maritime security, contribution of the crew towards ship’s security play a very important role.

The main duties of the ship security officer (SSO) include implementation and maintenance of a ship security plan, while working closely with the company security officer (CSO) and the port facility security officer (PFCO).

According to the ISPS code, every ship must have a ship security officer, who has the full responsibility of the ship’s security.

The main responsibilities of ship security officer (SSO) are:

  • Implementing and maintaining the ship security plan (SSP)
  • Conducting security inspections at regular intervals of time to ensure that proper security steps are taken
  • Making changes to the ship security plan if need arise
  • Propose modifications to the ship security plan by taking various aspects of the ship into consideration
  • Help in ship security assessment (SSA)
  • Ensure that the ship’s crew is properly trained to maintain a high ship security level
  • Enhance security awareness and vigilance on board ship
  • Guide ship’s crew by teaching ways to enhance ship’s security
  • Report all security incidents to the company and the ship’s master
  • Taking view and suggestions of the company security officer and the port facility security officer into consideration while making amendments to the ship security plan
  • Help company security officer (CSO) in his duties
  • Take into account various security measures related to handling of cargo, engine room operations, ship’s store etc.
  • Coordinate with ship board personnel and port authorities to carry out all ship operations with utmost security
  • Ensure that the ship security equipment is properly operated, tested, calibrated, and maintained

The duties of ship security officer might change, increase, or decrease, depending on the type of the ship and situation. However, the main duties remain the same as mentioned above.

The importance of maritime security has substantially increased with the increase in the number of piracy attacks. This has also lead to a sudden increase in demand of maritime security jobs . Many companies offer special maritime security services to ensure high level of ship and port security. However, it is to note that most of the ship security related troubles can be averted by having a sound ship security plan.

International Register Of Shipping Conducts ISPS Code Training Course/ Vessel Security Officer or Ship Security Officer SSO, our next session is at Lagos, Nigeria on 4/5 September 2019. For more details and registration of the course, Please contact

Importance of Safety Management System (SMS) in ISM Code Implementation

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It has been 20 years since the ISM code became mandatory. Widely known as the ‘International Safety Management Code’, its implementation was a landmark for shipping industry given that for the first time, each shipping organization was obliged to develop an effective safety management. Namely, a “Safety Management System” is the core requirement for the ISM Code implementation; its aim is to ensure that safety is secured, humans are protected from injury and harm, and the environment and property are not damaged.

But is SMS only a paper approach to safety? Definitely no. It is the way of a shipping organization to meet its health, safety and environmental obligations and it forms a fundamental and mandatory part of the organization’s risk management strategy.  Although it has been 30 years since the initial drafting of the ISM Code, there still seems to be a confusion surrounding its effective implementation.

SMS follows the principles of ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ which is a quality approach toward continuous improvement.

Step #1 Plan

A statement should be included in Safety Management System in the form of policy regarding the organization’s approach to safety management. But what should this policy include?

  • The policy statement should include the organization’s obligations to comply with international and national legislation, rules and regulations.
  • A more advanced policy statement may also include information about the organization’s attitude and values towards health, safety and environment.
  • The organization needs also to develop procedures to support this policy, as well as contingency plans to respond to any incident that may occur.
  • While planning to manage safety, an organization should also think about how it will measure its performance. Setting out key performance indicators can help define the standards of health, safety and environmental compliance that a company expects to achieve.

Step #2 – Do

A safety management system needs to specify the organizational structure and mechanisms for implementing policy. As a starting point, the organization needs to have a detailed understanding of its operations and the risks that accompany it. The wording used in ISM refers, that “1.2.2 Safety management objectives of the Company should, inter alia:

  1. provide for safe practices in ship operation and a safe working environment,
  2. assess all identified risks to its ships, personnel and the environment and establish appropriate safeguards; …”

This is a legal obligation for organizations to keep risks to as low as reasonably practicable, referred to as ALARP. The risk management is an integral part of an effective management system. Understanding their risk profiles helps organizations to prioritize resources to reduce risks to the ALARP level. The recognized risk profile will create organizational procedures to accomplish the standards of health, safety and environment. In this regard:

  • Accountability for health and safety needs to be specified,
  • Roles and responsibilities should be defined,
  • Resources should be allocated, and
  • The workforce involved needs to have a shared understanding of how to keep risks to a minimum.

Step #3 – Check

This a critical part of any system (quality, safety, security etc). Adequate procedures should be implemented for monitoring, evaluating and investigating health, safety and environmental performance. However, an effective safety system is not limited to recording accidents, incidents and lost time injuries, but it includes a combination of a proactive monitoring system supported by reactive actions.

In particular, monitoring systems provide information of how the safety management system is performing:

  • Proactive monitoring: It involves monitoring, evaluating and checking on how well the system is performing before something happens. This may include audits, inspections, self-assessments, reviewing procedures surveys, such as health checks or employee attitude surveys.
  • Reactive monitoring: It is limited to response and involves recording information, incident investigation and training based on lessons learned.

The organizational knowledge (as specified in Quality Standard) may be very useful to support such actions. The management review is the main tool to complete this stage.

Step #4 – Act

The final step in the cycle is to review and act upon the information that has been gathered. This phase incorporates:

  • new information about changes in rules and regulations,
  • lessons learned from within or outside the company, and
  • advances in understanding and knowledge.

The management review process helps to actions for improvement, such as updating plans, re-visiting organizational arrangements, implementing new or revised measures, and adopting or adapting monitoring and evaluation processes.

For more details attend our ISM Code Auditing /Maritime Management Systems Course, our next session is at Lagos, Nigeria on 02/03 September 2019. For more details and registration of the course, Please contact


A Guide to Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 for Maritime Professionals

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Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), according to the ILO or International Labour Organisation, provides a broad perspective to the seafarer’s rights and fortification at work. The maritime regulation will finally entered into force on August 20th, 2013. Nearly 1.2 million seafarers will be affected by the terms and conditions of this human rights act, which will lay down a set of regulations for protection at work, living conditions, employment, health, social security and similar related issues.

On the basis of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), the Seafarer’s Employment Contracts will be implemented and mandated against nullifying the present employment contracts. MLC will be similar to the other statutory certifications such as ISM and ISPS onboard ships and the certificate will have 5 years of validity with interim, initial and intermediate surveys. It is imperative for all seafarers to understand the importance of Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006.

Under MLC, 2006, the ship owners are required to submit a DMLC or Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance to their respective flag states which form a party to the convention. The flag states will accordingly issue the MLC Certificate to the fleet flying their flag following, surveys, inspections, paperwork and approvals. The certificate would be then required to be posted at a conspicuous position onboard.

Contents of MLC,2006 

  1. Minimum Requirements for seafarers to work on ships
  • Minimum age
  • Medical certificate
  • Training and certifications
  • Recruitment and placement
  1. Conditions of Employment 
  • Seafarer’s Employment Agreement
  • Wages
  • Hours of rest and hours of work
  • Entitlement to leave
  • Repatriation
  • Seafarer compensation for ship’s loss or foundering
  • Manning levels
  • Career and skill development and opportunities for seafarer’s employment
  1. Accommodation, Recreation, Food and Catering
  • Accommodation and recreational facilities
  • Food and catering
  1. Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection
  • Medical care on board and ashore
  • Ship owner’s liability
  • Health and safety protection and accident prevention
  • Access to shore based welfare facilities
  • Social Security
  1. Compliance and Enforcement
  • Flag state responsibility
  • Authorization of recognized organisations
  • Maritime labour certificate and declaration of maritime labour compliance
  • Inspection and enforcement
  • On board compliance procedures
  • Port State Responsibilities
  • Marine Casualties
  • Labour Supplying responsibilities

Application of MLC,2006 to type of vessels

MLC applies to all the registered commercial vessels regardless of the flag state they belong to. This will also include leisure and commercial yachts, which are engaged on international voyages besides a few exceptions as stated in their circular discussing application of MLC on types of vessels. Vessels must be over 500 GRT to carry the MLC certificate. For vessels under 500 GRT, guidelines recommend the vessels to be voluntarily complying with the convention and as documented by the flag states.

Compliance requirements

The flag state administration is either doing the certifying process for the MLC certification or a Recognized Organisation (RO) maybe entitled to carry out the process on their behalf. The authorization may include the whole process of submission of the DMLC, inspection and ships operational verification to issuance of the MLC Certificate or a part of it. Classification societies or other third parties which specialise as recognized organisations are normally the service providers on behalf of the flag states.

Period of validity of the certificate

The MLC certificate may be issued for a period not exceeding five (5) years, following thorough inspection and verifying the vessels meet the minimum requirements of the MLC. To ascertain that the vessels which fly the flag of the member states continue complying with the requirements and standards of the convention, the competent authority of the flag may renew the certificate and maintain a public record for the same. Ships that are newly built and ships undergoing change of flag would also be issued with the certificate on interim or provisional basis for periods not exceeding six (6) months.

Survey Requirements and Port State Control (PSC)

Initial survey and inspection will be followed diligently with other inspections such as the intermediate inspection. Port State Control has the right to board any vessel at any given point of time for verifying the compliance for MLC. The Port State Control Inspectors are however entitled to detain the vessel not in compliance with the MLC requirements. With regard to PSC, the compliance for MLC is mainly subject to availability of the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC), the MLC certificate issued to the fleet and a plan implementing the MLC content

Time taken to get certified

One of the main requirements of complying with MLC is that every crew member is to be in possession of an approved Seafarer Employment Agreement or SEA. The approval has to necessarily be in conjunction with the flag state and must include certain provisions that are required under MLC. The older seafarer’s contracts will be replaced or used in concurrence with the SEA and be inspected upon by the PSC. In lieu of this, time required for the certification will depend on the gap analysis, issuance of newer Agreements and also the development of plans and manuals. Moreover, Crew compensation and other benefits may be different for every ship owner apart from those required by the MLC. The length of reviewing, revising and approving of the requirements and therefore the certification time may take weeks or months together.

Fixing up or scheduling inspections

Every Flag State is wholly responsible for ensuring that the obligations under the MLC convention are implemented correctly onboard ships flying their flags. This also means that the flag state is responsible for correlating the subsequent measures related to work and living conditions and forming an efficient system for the inspections and MLC related certifications, Flag State is also entailed to appoint sufficient qualified inspectors for executing the certification processes.

The interval between the inspections should not exceed a period of 36 months. Similar to the ISM and ISPS certifications, MLC also requires the inspectors to conduct examinations, tests or enquiries to verify strict compliance to the regulations of the convention and ascertain that the deficiencies, if any, are remedied avoiding serious breach to standards of the convention or correspond to considerable danger to the health, safety and security of the seafarers. The inspectors also have the power to restrain the ship to leave port until the deficiencies are corrected. 

Dealing with Inspections

As stated earlier, the flag state has all the rights to withdraw the MLC Certificate if the vessel fails to pass the mandatory inspections and its obligations. The Inspector in his entire prowess is empowered to detain the vessel in port if it is evident that the concerned vessel failed to implement the requirements of the MLC onboard. With the number of inspections to increase exponentially, the number of detentions is also believed to increase. Failed Inspections could mean heavy commercial and financial losses for the vessel, charterers and the owners. Therefore the best way to avoid such grave situations is to ensure that the vessels strictly adhere with the guidelines as laid out in the MLC Convention.

Documentation required

In short, the member states require each vessel to maintain a hard copy of the convention at all times along with the MLC certificate, a Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance stating the obligations of the convention that involve working and living conditions for the seafarers and measures to put in place for the MLC compliance.

Documents required to be maintained onboard for Maritime Labour Certificate (MLC 2006)
– Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance, Parts I and II
– Maritime Labour Certificate
– Recent Inspection report
– Evidence proving that all seafarers onboard are above sixteen (16) years of age
– Evidence showing the crewing agencies comply with the MLC requirements
– A Medical Certificate of maximum one year validity for seafarers under 18 years of age
– A Medical Certificate of maximum two years validity for seafarers above 18 years of age
– Evidence proving no dangerous work or night time work being undertaken for seafarers under 18 years of age
– A Seafarer’s Employment Agreement (SEA), signed by the seafarer and ship owner or an authorized representative
– A copy of CBA or Collective Bargaining Act and its English version
– A valid COC or Certificate of Competency and valid training certificates for all seafarers onboard
– Records of training in personal safety and safety meetings held onboard
– Records of all accidents, incidents, investigations and consequent analysis onboard
– Records of seafarer’s familiarisation and the records for seafarer’s rest / work hours

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006 is a milestone for the global maritime industry. Once implemented, MLC is expected to enhance the life of seafarers working offshore, along with increasing the safety and security of sea-going vessels.

INTLREG Conducts Maritime Labour Convention  Training Course, our next session is at Lagos, Nigeria on 26/27/28 August 2019. For more details and registration of the course, Please contact

Tips for a successful ISPS Code internal audit

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ISPS Code requires from a shipping organization to conduct security internal audits in an effort to monitor and assess the level of managed vessels’ compatibility to security regulations and the effectiveness of the implemented Ship Security Plan.

In general, internal audits should be carried out by independent personnel who have received appropriate training. The audit is carried out at the workplace, with the use of checklist(s) for recording appropriate items; however, the auditor may deviate from the list to include additional items and important issues which emerge as the audit progresses.

As far it concerns security internal audits, Company Security Officer (CSO) is responsible for the schedule of internal audits onboard, ensuring that every part of the ship security plan on board vessels is audited once per calendar year, and at any other greater frequency, as deemed necessary. However, the CSO may initiate unscheduled audits if any serious deficiency becomes apparent from dangerous occurrences, review of records or during routine operations. Additionally, it is CSO’s responsibility to assign an auditor at a convenient time prior to the audit.

Key focus areas of security internal audits

There are some major areas on which the security auditors should focus on during internal audits:

  • Auditors need to check the approval letter of SSP and ensure that it is valid. Status of SSP should be reviewed to be made sure that ship’s related personnel is familiar with it. Also, procedures should be in place for establishing and maintaining contact with shore management in an emergency. The master should provide documented proof of his responsibilities and authority, which must include his overriding authority. In addition, there should be checked if non-conformities are reported to the Company and which are the corrective actions been taken by the Company, regarding each non-conformity. It is essential to be checked if the security filling system is in place and properly implemented.
  • As long as Ship Security Plan is based on the results of the Security Assessment, auditors should review the status of the Ship Security Assessment conducted to guide the construction of the SSP and also, should be made sure that SSA has been accepted by the CSO.
  • Regarding the Company’s Security Officer, it is important to be checked if the crew is aware who the CSO is and if his/her contact numbers are available on board. CSO certificate should be valid and copies are placed on board.
  • There should also be made sure that the Ship Security Officer is aware of all his duties and responsibilities and his/ her certificates are valid and placed on board.
  • During a Security audit, all documents and records related to the ship security should be inspected, in order to be checked if the amendments/ revisions been performed to the plan have been reported accordingly and if prior to any revision the appropriate assessment been performed. Revisions and amendments should be approved by the administration. Also, there should be made sure that all documents concerning security issues are confidentially kept in restricted places on board.
  • As for the security drills and related training, auditors should check if the drills program is followed as required and so does the training program establish by the company. Moreover, during an ISPS audit there should be checked if Safety Drills reports are completed properly and if they have been forwarded to the Head Office at the required intervals.
  • By the time the auditor board on vessel, he/she will have the opportunity to check weather all the appropriate measures are followed accordingly. There should be checked if all access points are covered by patrols and watchman and if there is a log keeping for the visitors. Boundaries are placed where it is important and access onboard is properly secured.
  • SSP requires the statement of vessel’s restricted areas and it is required to ensure that these places are searched as required, doors are properly maintained and locked. If suspected stuff has been found, should be reported and the handling of such incidents should be communicated to the company.
  • Lights, projectors and other signs should be checked in order to be made sure that are in a good working condition and ready to be used during emergency situations.
  • Security equipment should be maintained and tested to ensure that it works efficiently. Security auditor is checking the relevant maintenance logs and whether the Security Equipment Reports are properly performed and forwarded to the Company.

On completion of the audit, the auditor completes the relevant checklist form where he shall indicate the audit findings, any Non Conformities raised and any other critical observations. The report shall be forwarded to the Company Security Officer who reviews it and records any Non Conformities may raised.

One of the most important issues of the security auditing procedure is the audit results to be communicated to all employees, onboard vessels and ashore. The CSO is responsible to ensure that all Department Staff related to the system problem identified, is kept updated and informed. Besides, the scope of the whole procedure is to prevent any unfavorable situations and focus on future improvements.

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


Training for Success

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International Register Training Institute (IRTI), a department of International Register of Shipping, has been approved by USCG and US Maritime Administration ( MARAD) to conduct the Vessel Security Officer/Company Security Officer ( VSO/CSO) Course in accordance with the training requirements of ISPS Code, STCW Regulation VI/5, STCW Code Section A-VI/5 and 33 CFR Parts 104 and 105.

IRTI, which offers ISM & ISPS training worldwide, has had its International Safety Management (ISM) Code courses approved by the International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA). The institute has been growing rapidly in the last year and it is receiving many requests from around the world to conduct training courses for a wide variety of personnel in the maritime industry.