Security at the Panama Canal was enhanced recently as it implemented requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security
(ISPS) Code and received fulfillment certification from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Consulting (an affiliate of the American Bureau of Shipping). The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) voluntarily sought certification and chose to comply with the Code, which is mandatory for ship and port facilities by July 1, 2004. The Panama Canal is among the first of the largest maritime organizations in the continent to receive ISPS certification. The enhanced security will improve upon the way the Canal works with ships and port facilities to detect and deter security threats within a standardized and consistent framework, exchanging pertinent security information, establishing methods for assessing security and ensuring the enforcement of safety measures.
To receive certification under the ISPS Code
, ACP employees worked with ABS Consulting personnel to fulfill the requirements listed under the Code's regulations and to identify items that will help reduce risks and threats. ABS Consulting performed a security assessment and developed a security plan to evaluate risk factors at the Canal. The first part of the assessment was to identify assets and infrastructures important to the Panama Canal. Next, potential threats were listed to establish security measures and to develop the security plan. By achieving certification, the ACP will be required to compile and review information, maintain communication procedures and provide the means to comply with the appropriate level of security measures and procedures. These requirements will be monitored by the Canal's own designated ACP Security Officers, Juan Hector Diaz (ACP Security Department Director) and Antonio Michel (Canal Protection Division Manager).
"Security at the Canal has always been a priority. By complying with the ISPS Code and working with ships and ports, our collective efforts will help to make global commerce safer," said ACP Security Officer and Environment and Security Director Juan Hector Diaz. "We voluntarily sought certification because we are constantly looking for more efficient ways to make the Canal safer and more reliable."
ISPS is a new regulation to enhance maritime security under the Safety of Life at Seas Convention (SOLAS). It was adopted in December 2002 at the International Maritime Organization's Conference.