What is the ISPS Code in Maritime Security?

What is the meaning of ISPS code in maritime security

ISPS code in maritime security helps ensure a safe trade and prevents loss of life due to uncertain security breaches during voyages. It applies to port authorities, government authorities, shipping companies, and seafarers. Following the ISPS code for maritime security, officials can prevent unethical activities on port facilities or inside the ships. The code can be implemented on three levels, varying on the level of security breach. By taking these proactive measures, the maritime industry helps reduce the chances of supply chain disruptions and financial losses. Let us learn more about the ISPS code in maritime security. 

What is the ISPS Code in maritime? 

ISPS stands for International Ship and Port Facility Security Code in maritime. ISPS code is a vital maritime regulation that contains comprehensive measures to improve the safety of ships and ports. Before the ISPS code, the SOLAS convention was coined to improve the safety of life at sea. Later, many amendments were made to the existing convention to enhance the safety and security of ships and life while on the voyage. The ISPS code was brought into consideration by the International Maritime Organisation in 2004 as a means of establishing strict international security.  

ISPS code aimed to prescribe new regulations to the government authorities, port authorities, shipping companies and seafarers to educate them about the importance of safety and implement necessary measures to save human life and ships during uncertain circumstances. The code applies to all passenger ships and containerships of 500 gross tonnage. 

Why was the ISPS code introduced? 

The ISPS code is an anti-terror regulation coined under the SOLAS Convention and was established to counter and tackle unethical and criminal activities, especially acts of terrorism. It was introduced in response to the 9/11 attacks in the United States and the threats received by ships and port facilities. The regulation holds a detailed account of all rules and standards that ports and ships must follow to reduce the chances of threats and have contingency plans for emergencies. It also encourages the participation of the government in preventing terror in maritime organizations and taking actions on a national level to discourage unethical activities. 

Levels in ISPS code 

There are three primary levels in the ISPS code. 

  1. Security level 1 – It is applied to everyday threats. The primary and minimum protective and security measures are taken permanently where ships and port facilities constantly operate at security level 1. It allows authorities to bar unauthorized access on the ship and inside the ports, monitor all areas on the deck and surrounding the ship, supervise cargo handling and container stowage on ships, and ensure secure communication channels. 
  2. Security level 2 – It is applied for heightened threat levels where additional security measures are taken until the threat looms. It includes patrolling the deck during silent hours, limiting all access points into the ships and monitoring them closely, deploying crew for searches across all areas on the ship, escorting passengers on board for search purposes, and briefing the crew about any specific measures if needed. 
  3. Security level 3 – This level of ISPS code is applied in the case of an exceptional threat level. When there are high chances of threats or incidents, security level 3 is implemented only when credible leads suggest an imminent security threat. It is implemented to initiate additional security measures. It narrows down the access to ships to a single controlled and supervised point, evacuations are performed if deemed necessary, cargo operations are suspended for a time, and a partial or complete search of the ship is commanded. 

Components of ISPS code in maritime security 

ISPS code applies to various ships and seafarers. Let us learn more about the application of ISPS code in maritime. 

  • ISPS code for ships– Different types of containerships operate on international waters and are exposed to piracy, terrorist attacks, cyber threats, and stowaways. Protecting the ship’s integrity and preventing such activities that harm the ship and cargo is essential. A company security officer (CSO) is appointed to carry out the ship security assessment and perform an onboard survey of the ships to formulate a new ship security plan (SSP) or to make updates to the existing one. A ship security alert system or SSAS is installed on the ship to alert the shore authorities in case of potential security breaches. 
  • ISPS code for the crew- Any threats or maritime attacks also stake the lives of seafarers and cause fatalities during the voyages. The ISPS code states that a ship security plan (SSP) that mentions seafarers’ duties at different security levels must be drafted and kept onboard. It also defines the security measures to be taken during different circumstances in case of security breaches. A ship security officer (SSO) is in charge of the ship’s security and is responsible for supervising the crew members performing their duties based on security parameters. 
  • ISPS code for port facilities– Illegal activities such as human trafficking and transport of weapons and drugs can take place while the containers or ships are resting at various port facilities. ISPS code establishes regulations to better hold over the port area and prevent unauthorised access. It also coordinates with vessels at sea to help them in case of any security breaches or threats. The government appoints a port facility security officer (PFSO). It is responsible for implementing a port facility security plan (PFSP) by determining the security level after conducting a port facility assessment. 

Objectives of ISPS code in maritime security 

The use of ISPS code in maritime is as follows- 

  • It helps establish roles and responsibilities for the government and port authorities, followed by those of shipping companies and seafarers. 
  • It allows maritime organisations in various countries to actively collect and exchange all security information in real-time. 
  • It provides a methodology and standards to measure and assess the nature and level of security threats. 
  • ISPS code enables proactive detection of security threats within the maritime framework across the globe. 
  • It ensures that security measures are actively implemented in various places. 

What is the purpose of the ISPS Code? 

There are several reasons for using the ISPS code. 

  • The primary purpose of the ISPS code is to standardise the need for maritime security against terrorist activities and chalk out a comprehensive approach that can enhance the standard security of ships and port facilities across the globe. 
  • More than 90% of international trade depends on the maritime industry for border transportation. Maritime routes are primary to all e-commerce; therefore, securing maritime shipping is essential. 
  • Any security breaches on the ship during the voyage or on port infrastructures can disrupt the cybersecurity in maritime and cause a domino effect on the supply chain. It can, in turn, cause a far-reaching impact on the global economy. ISPS code helps safeguard all maritime operations and offers high-class security. 

Using the ISPS code in maritime security helps assess and evaluate the nature of the threat and suggests appropriate security measures to contain the threat. 

LOTUS Containers is a shipping container service provider in Germany that has partnered with various container depots to offer container services on a global level. We sell and lease shipping containers of all types and sizes to fulfil clients’ needs.

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