Port Security

What is the ISPS Code?

  • The International Ship and Port Facility Code(ISPS Code) is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities, develop in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
  • The ISPS Code is implemented through chapter XI-2 Special measures to enhance maritime security in the International Convention for the Safety of life at Sea(SOLAS). The Code has two parts, one mandatory and one recommendatory.

    In essence, the Code takes the approach that ensuring the security of ships and port facilities is a risk management activity and that, to determine what security measures are appropriate, an assessment of the risks must be made in each particular case.
  • The purpose of the Code is to provide a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling Governments to offset changes in
  • threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities through determination of appropriate security levels and corresponding security measures.

What are the Different Security Levels Referred to in the ISPS Code?

  • Security level 1 : normal, the level at which the ship or port facility normally operates.
    • Security level 1 means the level for which minimum appropriate protective security measures shall be maintained at all times.
  • Security level 2 : heightened, the level applying for as long as there is a heightened risk of a security incident.
    • Security level 2 means the level for which appropriate additional protective security measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of heightened risk of a security incident.
  • Security level 3 : exceptional, the level applying for the period of time when there is the probable or imminent risk of a security incident.
    • Security level 3 means the level for which further specific protective security measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a security incident is probable or imminent, although it may not be possible to identify the specific target.

      Setting security level 3 should be an exceptional measure applying only when there is credible information that a security incident is probable or imminent. Security level 3 should only be set for the duration of the identified security threat or actual security incident. While the security levels may change from security level 1, through security level 2 to security level 3, it is also possible that the security levels will change directly from security level 1 to security level 3.

      The biggest change is that the Contracting Governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention are able to formally exercise of control over ships in accordance with the provisions of chapter XI-2 and of the ISPS Code.

      At the same time, the Contracting Governments are obliged to address all the objectives and functional requirements of the ISPS Code and to ensure that appropriate security measures and procedures are in place in the port facilities and waterways located within their territory.

What has Changed since 1 July 2004?

  • The new requirements form the international framework through which Governments, ships and port facilities can co-operate to detect and deter acts which threaten security in the maritime transport sector.
  • The new regulatory maritime security regime will have a huge impact for those port facilities and ship operators who had not already taken on board the increased threat to maritime security in the current climate. They will need to catch up, according to the rules and guidelines in the ISPS Code.
  • For those Governments and ship operators who have already implemented enhanced security regimes, the ISPS Code formalizes and standardizes globally the security measures.
  • The point is that there is a very real threat. We have already seen attacks on maritime infrastructures elsewhere (such as Yemen and Iraq).
  • The whole idea of the ISPS Code is to reduce the vulnerability of the industry to attack, thus countering the threat and reducing the risk.
  • There are potential commercial benefits to the maritime industry in implementing the Code. It seems clear that, in the long run, implementation of the Code should provide considerable cost-benefit for the port industry as a whole and for individual ports. By putting in place an effective and compliant security regime, ports will be able to continue to participate fully in global trade and, of course, the potential economic consequences of a major security breach, which might result in disruption or even port closure, are serious indeed.

How to find out if a Ship or Port is Compliant?

  • A ship that is compliant should have an International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC).

    The "ISPS Code Database", which forms an integral part of the Organization's Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS), contains the information required by SOLAS regulation XI-2/13 as supplied by Contracting Governments, including national maritime security contact points. The ISPS Code database has a section listing ports including whether or not they have an approved port facility security plan (PFSP). You can reach for following contact points of PFSO, in Busan Korea.