IMO Proceeds Quickly on Safety Matters

Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Three levels of security proposed to reflect risk and vulnerability assessments The IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has continued the detailed preparatory work for the diplomatic conference on maritime security that is to be held at IMO in December, to the point where confidence for a successful outcome to the conference is high. Nevertheless, in a reflection of the immense complexity of the issues being tackled by the Organization under this heading, the MSC has agreed to the convening of a second intersessional working group on the subject, to be held from 9th to 13th September 2002.

Among a raft of items designed to address maritime security issues, the most far-reaching is a proposed International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) which would be implemented through SOLAS chapter XI. The Code would have two parts, one mandatory and the other recommendatory.

In essence, the Code takes the approach that ensuring the security of ships and port facilities is basically 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.

To begin the process, each Contracting Government would conduct port facility security assessments. Security assessments would have three essential components. First, they must identify and evaluate important assets and infrastructures that are critical to the port facility as well as those areas or structures that, if damaged, could cause significant loss of life or damage to the port facility's economy or environment.

Then, the assessment must identify the actual threats to those critical assets and infrastructure in order to prioritise security measures.

Finally, the assessment must address vulnerability of the port facility by identifying its weaknesses in physical security, structural integrity, protection systems, procedural policies, communications systems, transportation infrastructure, utilities, and other areas within a port facility that may be a likely target. Once this assessment has been completed, Contracting Government can accurately evaluate risk.

This risk management concept would be embodied in the Code through a number of minimum functional security requirements for ships and port facilities. For ships, these requirements would include:

· ship security plans

· ship security officers

· company security officers

· certain onboard equipment For port facilities, the requirements would include:

· port facility security plans

· port facility security officers In addition the requirements for ships and for port facilities include:

· monitoring and controlling access

· monitoring the activities of people and cargo

· ensuring security communications are readily available To ensure implementation of all these new requirements, training and drills will naturally play an important role. Because each ship (or class of ship) and each port facility present different risks, the method in which they will meet the specific requirements of this Code will be determined and eventually be approved by the Administration or Contracting Government, as the case may be.

In order to communicate the threat at a port facility or for a ship, the Contracting Government would set the appropriate security level. Security levels 1, 2, and 3 correspond to low, medium, and high threat situations, respectively. The security level creates a link between the ship and the port facility, since it triggers the implementation of appropriate security measures for the ship and for the port facility. The draft preamble to the Code states that, as threat increases, the only logical counteraction is to reduce vulnerability. The Code provides several ways to reduce vulnerabilities. Ships would be subject to a system of survey, verification, certification, and control to ensure that their security measures are implemented. This system would be based on a considerably expanded control system as stipulated in the Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Port facilities would also be required to report certain security related information to the Contracting Government concerned, which in turn would submit a list of approved port facility security plans, including location and contact details to IMO.

Among a number of other security-related items addressed, the committee agreed:

· four alternative texts, for the Maritime Security Conference to consider, that would accelerate the introduction of automatic identification systems for ships by amending SOLAS regulation V/19.2.4.

· the draft amendments to SOLAS chapter XI, for the Maritime Security Conference to consider, with a view to consideration and formal adoption; these amendments would create two parts to chapter XI, on dealing with safety matters and the other with security issues.

· to approve for circulation to the Maritime Security Conference the text of mandatory Part A of the new draft International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and the proposed recommendatory Part B on guidance of the draft ISPS Code with a view to consideration and formal adoption;

· to approve a number of draft Conference resolutions (see below) for circulation to the Maritime Security Conference with a view to consideration and formal adoption;

· to request Member Governments and international organizations concerned to consider, at home, the draft performance standards for a ship security alarm installation and to advise their MSC 76 delegations accordingly so that the performance standards may be adopted at that session and promulgated by means of an MSC Circular.

· to request the IMO Secretary-General to communicate with Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization concerning the co-ordination of that Organization's work and that of IMO, in particular with regard to container security

· to approve draft functional requirements for a long-range tracking and identification system for submission to NAV 48 and to instruct the Sub-Committee to advise the maritime security conference thereon accordingly

· a detailed list of further tasks to be undertaken by other IMO bodies Draft maritime security-related resolutions adopted by MSC 75

· Adoption of amendments to the Annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended

· Adoption of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code

· Further work by the International Maritime Organization pertaining to the enhancement of maritime security

· Future amendments to part B, chapter XI of the 1974 SOLAS Convention on special measures to enhance maritime security

· Promotion of technical co-operation and assistance

· Early implementation of the special measures to enhance maritime security

· Establishment of appropriate measures to enhance the security of ships, port facilities and fixed floating platforms not covered by part B of SOLAS chapter XI

· Co-operation and further work with the International Labour Organization (ILO), IMO/ILO work on port security - terms of reference · Co-operation with the World Customs Organization The 75th meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee was held under the Chairmanship of Mr Tom Allan of the UK at the IMO's London headquarters from 15th to 24th May, 2002. The Committee's work on maritime security was carried out in a working group chaired by Mr Frank Wall of the United Kingdom.

In his concluding remarks to the Committee, IMO Secretary-General William O'Neil said, "This had indeed been an historical session, not so much from the viewpoint of the volume of work the Committee was able to accomplish and the thousands of pages of documents it dealt with but, more importantly, in respect of the substance of the decisions made".

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