Sunday, October 15, 2006

ISPS Code effectiveness

ISPS Code effectiveness.
Hello gents, I was on board checking “my” vessel certificates for surveys to come in the near future and it “pop” out the intermediate survey for the ISPS Code certification due between the 2nd and 3rd year after the initial survey and came to my mind to write this lines about my fillings on the ISPS subject .
Just to place this code historically the ISPS code starts to take effective form as code, after the December 2002 conference of contracting governments on SOLAS 1974/9 held under IMO supervision, the 9/11 terrorist attack to World Trade Centre just hurried the need for measures on global security and anti-terrorism actions, already desperately needed in the shipping business related with vessels hijacking i.e. “Achille Laura”, piracy attacks and other unlawful acts against vessels and crews all over the World.
The ISPS Code “purpose to standardized, consistent Frame work for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facility”.
In July 2004 the ISPS Code enter in force after Introduction of SOLAS regulations in chapter XI-2.
The Companies had to issuing Security Plans, nominate CSO (Company Security Officer), nominate SSO (Ship Security Officer), courses all over the World started at Companies costs. The Coastal States (Contracting ones)under the regulations should provide adequate procedures for port facilities related with security and protection, such as PSO (Port Security Officer), access points and others logistic aspects.
The vessels to be certified had been surveyed to check if the Security Plan had been effectively implemented on board with qualified personnel and if the vessels had the adequate gear in place:
AIS (Automatic Identification System).
SSAS(Ship Security Alert System) for new ships, for the others should be fitted no later than 1st July 2006.
Okay I don’t want to detail more about the code but just a small analysis about effectiveness of the code since implementation: - first thing, bigger burden for crew with the need to accomplish the normal vessel operations, and now the security tasks, such as access control on board for persons and baggage(one person at the gangway) , security patrol duties etc, more paper work to enter port, and if the Master starts to do everything by the book some delays can occur because cargo checks etc.
Real security doesn’t look to improve much, you just go for the last piracy attacks on Horn of Africa or Indonesia coast, west Africa (Nigeria) and in some remote Brazil locations and you found some nasty “pictures” there.
The SSAS alert system is designed to rise the alarm ashore in reaction to security threats or security incidents by notifying the ship flag state without alarming ships or coastal states in the vicinity, or giving any indication on board, after some trial exercises on board to comply with the Security Plan, was shown that the answer time from the other side of the World take quite a time, and in some real situations like robberies and small assaults the bandits had gone from long time when the help arrived.
On the other side we on board had received the AIS as a big help on navigation and a very nice aid for anti-collision procedures analysis, it’s truth that we still found some vessels without AIS or with it Off but those are a minor percent.
On my particular case in the offshore trade in Brazilian waters I found fishing boats just tied up to platform legs and risers inside the 500m zone (security incident report must be done according company procedures, at least a few ones per day if you go by the book).
I don’t wont to say that the ISPS Code is a bad idea, the problem is that the Coastal Governments have big difficulties to implement the needed measures.
I hope that with time all the Code measures will improve.
It’s all for now.
All the best José Saraiva.

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