GUIDE TO MARITIME SECURITY AND THE ISPS CODE
PURPOSE OF THE GUIDE
The guide is intended to provide consolidated guidance on the implementation of the security related
amendments to the International Convention on the Safety of life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS Convention)
which were adopted in December 2002. This amendments included a new chapter XI-2 in the SOLAS
convention , ‘’ Special measures to enhance maritime Security” , which enshrined the International Ship
and port facility security (ISPS) code.
The guidance in the guide addressed primarily to ,
1. Government officials who exercise the responsibilities that the Maritime Security Measures
place on Contracting Governments ;
2. Port facility employees who exercise the responsibilities that the Maritime Security measures
place on port facilities;
3. Shipping company employees, including shipboard personnel , who exercise the responsibilities
that the Maritime Security measures place on shipping companies and their ships.
The guide is presented in five sections;
1. Section 1 - Introduction (describes the purpose and the content of the guide )
2. Section 2 - Security responsibilities of Governments and their national responsibilities.
3. Section 3 - Security responsibilities of port facility and port operators
4. Section 4 - Security responsibilities of ship operators
5. Section 5 - Framework for conducting security assessments
1. Company security officer (CSO)- means the person designated by the company for
ensuring that a ship security assessment is carries out, that a ship security plan is
developed , submitted for approval , and thereafter implemented and maintained:
and for liaison with port facility security officers and the ship security officer.
2. Declaration of Security (DoS) means an agreement reached between a ship and
either a port facility or another ship which it interfaces, specifying the security
measures each will implement.
3. Port facility security officer (PFSO) – means the person designated as responsible
for the development , implementation , revision and maintenance of the port facility
security plan and for liaison with the ship security officers and company security
4. Port facility security plan (PFSP)- means a plan developed to ensure the application
of measures designed to protect the port facility and ships, persons, cargo , cargo
transport units and ship’s stores within the port facility from the risks of security
5. Port security officer (PSO) – means the person tasked to manage and co-ordinate
security in the port.
6. Port security plan (PSP)- means a plan developed to ensure the application of
measures designed to protect the port and ships, persons, cargo , cargo transport
units and ship’s stores within the port from the risks of security incident.
7. Ship security alert system (SSAS) – provides the means by which a ship can transmit
a security alert to a competent authority on shore, indicating that the security of the
ship is under threat or has been compromised.
8. Ship security officer (SSO) – means the person onboard the ship, accountable to the
master, who is designated by the company as responsible for the security of the
ship. Including implementation and maintenance of the ship security plan, and for
liaison with the Company security officer (CSO) and Port facility security officer
9. Ship security plan (SSP)- means a plan developed to ensure the application of
measures on board the ship designed to protect persons on board, cargo , transport
units, ship stores or the ship from the risks of a security incident.
10. Ship security assessment (SSA)- means a risk assessment undertaken by, or a
company security officer as prelude to the preparation of a ship security plan or the
review , or amendment , of an approved ship security plan.
The Maritime Security Measures require contracting governments to gather and assess
information with respect to security threats which could occur at a port facility or on, or
against , a SOLAS ship. This process is essential to allow their national authorities to set
the appropriate security level applying to their port facilities and to ships flying their
The Maritime Security Measures identify three levels of risk which are now used
1. Security level 1 means the level for which minimum appropriate protective security
measures shall be implemented at all times.
At security level 1, the security measures and procedures in port security
plans (PSPs), PFSPs or SSPs should be sufficient to counter most forms of criminality
associated with ports and ships , in particular trespass, pilferage and stowaways . the
priority is to allow normal commercial operations.
2. Security level 2 means the level for which appropriate additional protective security
measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of the heightened risk
of security incident.
At security level 2, the priority is also allow the continued commercial
operation of the port, port facility or ship but with increased security restrictions.
3. Security level 3 means the level for which further specific protective security
measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a security incident is
probable or imminent, although it may not be possible to identify a specific target.
At security level 3, the strictest security restrictions will be in place and could
lead to the eventual suspension of commercial activities, with control of the security
response transferred to the government organizations responding to a significant
Certificate required on board.
Ship falling under the maritime security measures must carry either the International Ship
security Certificate (ISSC) or, in limited circumstances, the interim ISSC, both of which are
issued by their administration.
Administrations inspect ships entitled to fly their flag in connection with the issue,
intermediate verification and renewal of ISSCs; the issue of interim ISSCs; and at any other time
to assess the ship’s compliance with the Maritime Security Measures
An ISSC must be issued for a period not exceeding 5 years. The exception covers the
situation when renewal verification is completed within three months of the expiry date of the
existing ISSC. In this situation, the new ISSC becomes valid from the date of completion of the
renewal verification to a date not exceeding five years from the expiry date of the existing ISSC.
An ISSC should only be issued or renewed when;
a. The ship has an approved SSP indicating that it fully addresses all requirements
specified in the Maritime security Measures.
b. The administration is satisfied , based on objective evidence , that the ship is operating
in accordance with the provisions in the approved SSP
A certificate should not be issued in cases where there is a minor deviation from the SSP, even
when the ship’s ability to operate at security levels 1 to 3 is not compromised.
Before a ship is put into service and before an interim ISSC is issued, an interim verification
takes place. Although the ISPS code refers to this type of verification as an ‘initial verification’, it
has become standard industry practice to use the term ‘interim verification’.
Before an ISSC is issued – an Initial verification
At least once between the second and third anniversary of the issuance of the ISSC if the
validity period is for five years – an intermediate verification
Before the ISSC is renewed –a renewal verification
Duration of validity
The duration of a renewed five year ISSC can vary depending on the date that the renewal
verification takes place. If it is completed;
Within three months before the expiry of the original ISSC, then the next five year
period starts at the original expiry date.
After the expiry of the original ISSC, then the next five year period starts at the original
More than three months before the expiry of the original ISSC, then the next five year
period starts at the date of completion of the renewal verification.
If a new ISSC cannot be placed on the ship before the original ISSC expires, the
administration can endorse the original ISSC for an extended period not exceeding five
months. The new five year period starts at the original expiry date.
If a ship is in transit, or its arrival at the port where verification is to take place is
delayed, the administration can endorse the original ISSC to allow the ship to complete
its voyage. However, the validity period cannot be extended for longer than three
months and the new five year starts at the expiry date set for the original ISSC.
If a ship is engaged on short voyages, its ISSC can be extended for a period of up to one
month with the new five year period starting at the expiry date of the original ISSC.
If an intermediate verification is undertaken before the second anniversary of issuance
of an ISSC that is valid for five years, its validity period must be reduced to show an
expiry date is no more than three years after the completion date of the verification.
However, the original expiry date can be maintained with a further intermediate
Loss of validity
An ISSC can lose its validity when;
1. The required intermediate and renewal verifications have not taken place;
2. It has not been endorsed following an intermediate verification;
3. A new shipping company takes over the operation of the ship; or
4. The ship changes its flag.
On changes of flag, the original administration should provide the new
administration with copies of all relevant information on the ship’s ISSC,
including copies of available verification reports.
The ship’s administration has to be notified immediately when there is a
failure of a ship’s security equipment or system or suspension of a security
measure which compromises the ship’s ability to operate at security levels 1
Duly authorized officers
Government can authorize duly authorized officers to apply the control and compliance
measures under the Maritime security measures. Their authorization is usually through the
administration and officers may also undertake other control functions.
The duly authorized officer could at this time;
Request the ship to rectify the non compliance;
Require the ship to proceed to a specified location within the territorial sea or internal
waters of the port state;
Undertake a detailed inspection of the ship, if the ship is within the territorial sea of the
port state; and/or
Deny entry into port
A duly authorized officer could check;
That the ship is operating at the security level applying to the port facility, or at a higher
security level set by the ship’s administration;
The security drills have been carried out at the required interval; and
The records of the last 10 ports of call and any ship-to-ship activity undertaken during
the period of the last 10 ports of call.
Parts of the SSP are confidential and can only be inspected by a duly authorized officer with
the consent of the ship’s administration. The confidential parts of an SSP are the;
Identification of restricted areas and measures to prevent access to them;
Procedures for responding to security threats;
Procedures for responding to the instructions received from the ship’s administration at
Details of the duties of ship personnel with security responsibilities;
Procedures for inspecting, testing and calibrating security equipment on the ship;
Location of the SSAS activation points; and
Guidance on the use of the SSAS.
Changing security levels
Governments are responsible for setting security levels
A ship can never operate at a lower security level than the one being applied at the port
or port facility that is visiting
A ship can, however operate at a higher security level, when set by its government, than
that applying at the port or port facility it is in, or it intends to enter. The authorities at
the port / port facility should not seek to have the ship reduce the security level set by
the ship’s government.
Duties of CSO:
1. Advising on the level of threats likely to be encountered by the ship, using appropriate
security assessments and other relevant information;
2. Ensuring that SSAs are carried out,
3. Ensuring the development, submission for approval, implementation and maintenance
4. Ensuring that SSP’s are modified, as appropriate , to correct deficiencies and satisfy the
security requirements of individual ships;
5. Arranging for internal audits and reviews of security activities;
6. Enhancing security awareness and vigilance;
7. Ensuring adequate training for personnel responsible for ship security;
8. Ensuring effective communication and co-operation between SSOs and relevant PFSOs.
Duties of SSO;
On a ship, the ship security officer (SSO) is responsible for security. This responsibility
1. Ensure that the ship and its shipboard personnel operate in accordance with with the
2. Maintain security at all times;
3. May have responsibility for shipboard personnel with designated security
4. Ensure that contact is established and maintained with the PFSOs at the port facilities
that the ship uses; and
5. Undertaking regular security inspections of the ship to ensure that appropriate security
measures are maintained;
6. Maintaining and supervising the implementation of the SSP, including any amendments
7. Co-ordinating the security aspects of the handling of cargo and ship’s stores with other
shipboard personnel and relevant PFSOs;
8. Proposing modifications to the SSP;
9. Reporting any deficiencies and non-conformities identified during inernal audits,
periodic reviews, security inspections and verifications of the compliance to the CSO;
10. Implementing any corrective actions
11. Enhancing security awareness and vigilance on board the ship;
12. Ensuring that adequate training has been provided to shipboard personnel, including
security related familiarization training;
13. Reporting all security incidents;
14. Ensuring that security equipment is properly operated, tested, maintained and;
Ship security alert system (SSAS);
All ships are required to be provided with a ship security alert system
When activated, the SSAS must
1. Initiate and transmit a ship to shore security alert to the shipping company, identifying
the ship and its location, and indicating that the security of the ship is under threat or
has been compromised
2. Not send the alert to any other ships;
3. Not raise any alarm on board the ship; and
4. Continue the alert until deactivated and/or reset
The competent authority should be able to receive SSAS alerts on a 24/7 basis.
The SSAS must;
Be capable of being activated from the navigation bridge and in at least one other
Have its activation points designed so as to prevent the accidently activation of an
SSAS should include the following information:
Name of ship;
GNSS position of the ship
Date and time of GNSS position
In establishing SSASs reveals examples of;
Procedures being included in SSPs using a standard template;
The handling of false security alerts being included as a procedure;
Testing being performed at least annually;
All concerned parties being notified by the shipping company when an SSAS is to be
tested, so as to avoid any unintended emergency response actions;
When a SSAS accidently transmits in testing, the ship immediately notifying the
shipping company, so that all concerned parties can be made aware that the alert is
false and that no emergency response action should be taken;
A checklist being used when testing; and
Providing for an alternative power source.
Ship security drills and exercises
Drills should be conducted at least once every 3 months.
These are usually organized by SSOs, who are responsible for ensuring that all shipboard
personnel have received adequate training. In addition, in cases where more than 25% of the
ship’s crew has been changed at any one time with personnel that have not previously
participated in any drill on that ship within last 3 months, a drill should be conducted within
one week of the change.
Access to the ship
The SSP should establish the security measures covering all means of access to the ship
identified in SSA. This should include any;
1. Access ladders;
2. Access gangways;
3. Access ramps;
4. Access doors, side scuttles, windows and ports;
5. Mooring lines and anchor chains; and
6. Cranes and hoisting gear.
Security measures to control access to the ship in different levels
Security level -1
1. Checking the identity of all persons seeking to board the ship and confirming their
reasons for doing so by checking- photo id, passenger tickets, boarding passes etc;
2. In liaison with port facility, the ship should ensure that designated secure areas are
established in which inspections and searching of persons, baggage, personal effects,
3. Vehicles destined to be loaded on board car carriers, ro-ro and passenger ships are
subjected to search prior to loading, in accordance with the frequency required in the
4. Segregating checked persons and their personal effects from unchecked persons and
their personal effects;
All those seeking to board a ship should be liable to search. The frequency of
such searches, including random searches, should be specified in the approved
SSP and should be specifically approved by the administration.
Security level -2
At security level 2, the SSP should establish the security measures to be applied to protect
against a heightened risk of security incident to ensure higher vigilance and tighter control,
which may include.
1. Assigning additional personal to patrol deck areas during silent hours
2. Limiting the number of access points to the ship
3. Deterring waterside access to the ship, for eg. In liaison with the port facility, provision
of boat patrols;
4. Increasing the frequency and detail of searches of persons, personal effects, and vehicle
being embarked or loaded onto the ship;
5. Escorting visitors on the ship
6. Carrying out a full or partial search of the ship.
Security level -3
At security level 3, the ship should comply with the instructions issued by those responding to
the security incident or threat thereof.
1. Limiting access to a single, controlled, access point;
2. Granting access only those responding to the security incident or threat thereof
3. Suspension of embarkation or disembarkation;
4. Suspensions of cargo handling operations, deliveries etc;
5. Evacuation of the ship;
6. Movement of the ship; and
7. Preparing for a full or partial search of the ship
Restricted areas on the ship
1. Navigation bridge, machinery spaces of category A
2. Spaces containing security and surveillance equipment and systems and their controls
and lighting system controls;
3. Ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar spaces;
4. Spaces with access to portable water tanks, pumps, or manifolds,
5. Spaces containing dangerous goods or hazardous substances;
6. Spaces containing cargo pumps and their controls;
7. Cargo spaces and spaces containing ship’s stores;
8. Crew accommodation; and
9. Any other areas as determined by the CSO, through the SSA, to which access must be
restricted to maintain the security of the ship.