Shipping is one of the most perilous sectors of international trade in the world and is only for the brave. Transporting cargo between oceans involves risks related to both life and finances. Over the past couple of decades, acts of terrorism and violence in the maritime world have been on the rise. In order to combat this issue and protect the ship and its resources, several rules and regulations were implemented by the International Maritime Convention (IMO) under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).
One major component which plays a vital role in the safety of the ship and its crew is the Ship Security Plan (SSP). A Ship Security Plan is a plan developed in line with the ISPS Code and IMO which provides guidance on ship security issues. It is a confidential document that specifies the responsibilities and procedures that have to be undertaken to combat any threat posed on the ship, cargo, and personnel. According to the ISPS Code, all passenger ships regardless of size and all cargo ships above 500 GT are required to carry a Ship Security Plan.
Who prepares the Ship Security Plan?
The Company Security Officer (CSO) is responsible for preparing the SSP and making sure that it falls in line with the ISPS Code He is also responsible for maintaining the SSP and getting the necessary approval from the Recognised Security Organisation. The responsibility of implementing the policies specified in the SSP is that of the Ship Security Officer (SSO). He is in charge of everything ranging from performing drills to briefing the crew about their respective duties as per the SSP. He is also responsible for reviewing the plan and informing the CSO in case of any deficiencies.
What does the Ship Security Plan consist of ?
The SSP establishes several measures which are of utmost importance for the safety of the ship. The main component of the plan is the provisions made for the three internationally adopted security levels. Some other major aspects the SSP addresses are:
- Identification of restricted areas and ways to prevent unauthorized access.
- Measures to be taken to prevent unauthorized access to the ship
- Measures to prevent the carriage of any dangerous items like weapons.
- The procedures to be followed for evacuation in case there is a security breach.
- Information on how to respond to security threats and maintain critical operations of the ship.
- Information on how to comply with the security instructions given out by the Contracting Government.
- Procedures for drills, training, and exercises mentioned in the plan.
- Procedures for auditing and reporting security-related incidents.
- Identification of the SSO and CSO along with their 24-hour contact details.
- Information regarding the frequency and methods of testing and maintaining the security equipment.
- Information about the locations of the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) activation points.
- Information regarding the duties of each ship personnel in case of a security breach.
What are the 3 security levels of ISPS?
Security Levels are a provision given in the ISPS Code to describe the current scenario of the security threat to the port and ships. There are three internationally adopted security levels:
- Security Level 1: This is the most basic level of security under which the ship and port facilities operate daily. The level of protective measures that is to be maintained is minimum.
- Security Level 2: It is a heightened level of security that applies for the whole duration of the heightened risk of a security incident. During this time, additional security measures like increased patrolling have to be implemented.
- Security Level 3: It is an exceptional level of security and applies to a scenario where a security incident is imminent. Additional security measures are implemented and the ship is in constant contact with the port facilities.
What is ISPS Code?
ISPS Code, also known as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code is an extremely vital set of rules and regulations for the safety and security of the ship, its crew and cargo, and the port. It was brought into action by IMO under the SOLAS convention chapter XI-2 after the 9/11 terrorist attack. It applies to passenger ships and cargo ships of 500 GT and above and its main aim is to look after the security aspects of the ship, crew, port, and the port workers. Some of the major features of the ISPS Code are:
- Provide the ship with a security level and specify the different duties under each security level.
- Monitor and restrict unauthorized access of people on board or into the port.
- Monitor the cargo operations and all the other activities that are taking place and identify any potential threat.
- Build and implement roles of security officers like SSO, CSO, PFSO, etc.
- Collecting and exchanging data from all around the globe regarding security threats and procedures to tackle them.