ABS Issues Guide For Ship Security

Friday, December 20, 2002
ABS will issue a new, comprehensive "Guide For Ship Security" in early January to assist shipowners in meeting the new IMO security standards. These standards are incorporated in the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), adopted by the Contracting Governments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 at the just completed IMO Diplomatic Conference. "We have been preparing for these new responsibilities for some time," said ABS President and COO Robert D. Somerville. "However, we felt it prudent to wait until the IMO had concluded framing the specific wording of the new Code before publicly announcing the various measures we have developed to assist shipowners worldwide." Somerville pointed out that the final IMO language incorporates some clarifying changes from the previously circulated drafts. "Now that a clear framework has been agreed, ABS will move rapidly to meet these new standards as a Recognized Security Organization (RSO) and to assist our clients through what will prove to be a challenging period of adjustment," he said. The ISPS Code is designed to provide a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating security threats, and determining appropriate measures to address them. Security of ships and port facilities is fundamentally a risk management activity requiring assessment of potential security situations to identify threats, determine exposure, and evaluate possible consequences. The new ABS Guide provides a clearly defined path for shipowners and operators to follow to obtain certification of their ships to the new international requirements. It also provides owners and operators with additional security-related actions that can be taken above and beyond the minimum SOLAS requirements leading to a class notation, indicating conformance with the highest recognized international standards. Within the Guide, ABS outlines the certification process and describes specific security responsibilities of companies and individuals. Within ship security, for example, guidance is provided in areas such as: ship security alert systems, plans and records; training, drills and exercises; company and ship security officers; and audit and review. "We recognize the positive impact that sound security management can have in reducing losses to the maritime industry and threats to national economies and infrastructure," said ABS Americas President and COO Robert E. Kramek. "This Guide clarifies the internationally agreed obligations of shipowners with regard to security. And it offers a class notation for those owners, particularly those trading regularly to the U.S., who want to demonstrate the highest level of compliance. This is done by meeting the requirements of the Code as well as additional measures recommended by ABS." To provide a complete service to its customers, ABS is seeking designation as a Recognized Security Organization (RSO) from the leading maritime flag states.

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