Strong support for a proposed comprehensive series of maritime security initiatives was expressed by the ABS Council at its semi-annual meeting in New York on November 12, following detailed presentations on the subject by ABS executives. The 60-strong Council is drawn from the more than 800 members of the classification society to provide guidance to the Chairman and management of the society. It includes prominent members of the shipowning, insurance and regulatory sectors.
"New demands will be placed on classification societies when the proposed IMO International Ship and Port Facility Security Code
) comes into effect," said ABS Chairman and CEO Frank J. Iarossi after the meeting. "ABS and its affiliated company, ABS Consulting, are developing a number of far reaching maritime security related services, both in response to the new Code and to individual approaches that have been made to us by shipowners, port authorities, terminal operators and regulatory bodies. Today, the ABS Council gave its unqualified support to these projects as necessary measures against terrorist acts directed at the marine infrastructure."
The ISPS Code is expected to be adopted by the IMO at the upcoming Diplomatic Conference in December. It is expected to enter into force on July 1, 2004. "ABS does not intend to wait until the date of enforcement to help in improving maritime security," said ABS President Robert D. Somerville. "We are already developing a comprehensive Guide to Maritime Security that will reference not only the requirements of the ISPS Code but will also include criteria that will allow a shipowner to meet the most stringent maritime security standards that can be expected to be unilaterally imposed by any nation."
Somerville also confirmed that ABS will be seeking early recognition as a Recognized Security Organization (RSO) by all the principal flag states with which it currently maintains agreements. "The 120 strong team of ABS ISM auditors will be undergoing rigorous training to meet the RSO standards contained in the Code," said Somerville. "We will be able to provide worldwide security related services by early 2003, almost 18 months before the Code takes effect."
Referring to the assessment of security risk addressed by the new Code, ABS Chairman Iarossi pointed out that ABS Consulting is recognized as the leading provider of risk management services in the US and worldwide. "We have tremendous in-house capability to address these new requirements," he said. "We are creating training courses to transfer these skills to those individuals within ABS who will be conducting future ship board audits of the proposed Security Plans."
Iarossi congratulated the framers of the ISPS Code for both the speed with which they have produced these requirements and for the breadth of vision they brought to the problem.