Governments and the shipping industry should redouble their efforts to ensure compliance with the new maritime security measures, which will enter into force on July 1, 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said in a Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) Circular.
MSC/Circ.1104, issued 15 January 2004 following consultations between the Secretary-General and the Chairman of the Maritime Safety Committee, invites SOLAS Contracting Governments, port authorities, classification societies, recognized security organizations, training institutions and all other parties concerned to redouble their efforts to protect shipping against terrorism by taking action as soon as possible to ensure compliance with the requirements of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) chapter XI-2 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) at as early a stage as possible.
The new requirements are due to enter into force on July 1, 2004.
The circular invites Administrations to advise companies and ships operating under their countries' flag to take appropriate steps to increase awareness of the potential dangers so that their crews are extremely vigilant and alert to any security threat they may encounter or be suspicious of, whether they are in port, at offshore terminals or underway.
The importance and significance of IMO's work on maritime security has been recognized by the IMO Council and the Assembly in agreeing that the Organization's theme for the current year should be: "IMO 2004: Focus on maritime security".
However, recent surveys carried out on the status of implementation of the security measures introduced by the aforementioned SOLAS amendments and the ISPS Code raise
concerns that not enough progress has been achieved so far. This has been reported by Governments and other interested parties (including industry organizations such as ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IACS, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO).
Given that the purpose of the new measures is to protect shipping against terrorist attacks, the information received gives rise to grave concern also from the point of view of the serious repercussions to ships, shipping companies, port facilities and international shipborne trade if the situation does not improve by July and parties concerned are found not in compliance with the measures.
It is also worrying from the point of view of the very substance of implementation of the measures if, as a result of last minute bottlenecks, plans are approved and certificates are issued hastily without proper verification.