ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security Code) is an essential security measure put in place as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The code was implemented by the International Maritime Convention (IMO) as an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea convention.
The main purpose of ISPS is to regulate and control the security and safety of the crew, ships, ports, and cargo as they travel through international waters. It accomplishes this by assigning levels of responsibility to governments, shipping companies, shipping personnel, and port operators to detect security threats and enact preventative measures as a result.
ISPS is a mandatory requirement for ships and ports. Therefore companies that operate ships or terminals charge customers an additional surcharge to cover the cost ISPS implementation. The party responsible for paying for the freight is also responsible for these surcharges. Typically, those charges are a part of the freight quote.
Reasons for establishing ISPS
The main reason for creating this system is the discussion that took place after the September 11, 2001 attacks. As a result, it was found that ships can be used as a target or tool for terrorists. Three safety levels are foreseen: normal, elevated, and exceptional. Because of this, each shipowner must have a ship security plan and the plan to protect the shipowner.
What measures does ISPS require?
● The activity of cargo and personnel be monitored.
● Detection of any and all security threats.
● That there be a security authority on every ship, with a multitude of duties depending on the security level.
● Established roles and responsibilities for port state officers and onboard officers to handle maritime security threats internationally.
● Established roles and responsibilities for contracting government agencies, local administrations, and shipping and port representatives.
● Collection of international data concerning security threats and develop solutions to each of these problems.
● All security-related data shared with the general public, the international port, and ship owners.
● Assessment of the flaws in the industry and necessary solutions for each issue.
Main aim of ISPS code In shipping
The ISPS code mainly looks after the security aspects of the ship, seafarers, ports and port workers, to ensure preventive measures can be taken if a security threat is determined. The main aim of the International Code for the Security of Ships and of Port Facilities (ISPS) is as follows:
● To monitor the activity of people and cargo operation
● To detect the different security threats onboard vessel and in port and implement the measure as per the situation
● To provide a security level to the ship and derive various duties and functions at the different security level
● To establish the respective roles and responsibilities of the contracting governments, agencies, local administrations and the shipping and port industries
● To build and implement roles and responsibilities for port state officer and onboard officers to tackle maritime security threat at the international level
● To collect data from all over the maritime industry concerning security threats and implementing ways to tackle the same
● To ensure the exchange of collected security-related information data with worldwide port and ship owners network
● To provide a methodology for security assessments so as to have in place plans and procedures to react to changing security levels
● To find the shortcomings in the ship security and port security plan and measure to improve them
The three levels of ISPS security are:
● ISPS Security Level 1 – average – the level at which the ships and port facilities operate under normal conditions. Minimum protective measures will be maintained at all times.
● Security Level 2 – heightened – this level will apply whenever there is a heightened risk of a security incident. The security experts will determine this time frame on the ship or at the port facility. At this level, additional security measures will have to be implemented and maintained for that period.
● Security Level 3 – exceptional – at this level, it is considered that a security incident is imminent, and SPECIFIC security measures will have to be implemented and maintained for that time. At this level, the security experts will work in close conjunction with Government agencies and possibly follow specific protocols and instructions.
ISPS code advantages:
Safety of ocean faring vessels and seamen is improved
Cargo and personnel movement is better controlled
Procedures are better documented
The working environment for port workers and seamen is made safer
ISPS code disadvantages:
Increase in procedures and work
Slower turn around on tasks and activities
Increase in documentation
Increase in vessel and port operating costs
Difficulties of the ISPS code:
Seafarer’s morale and human rights issues may be a challenge due to restraints on movements and allowed activities
Lack of training and understanding of procedures
Push back on additional work required
Cargo to gate lead time is increased due to increased procedures
Why is ISPS charged, who charges it, and who pays for it?
The ISPS code must be implemented in its fullest form to ensure the safety and protection of all concerned. For a shipping line and port, it means additional expenses for the employment of qualified and trained personnel capable of implementing the security measures required by the code.
Many workforces, planning, and equipment go into implementing the ISPS code and ensuring the safety and security of the ship’s crew and the staff in the port.
To cover these costs, the shipping lines charge the ISPS surcharge.
A customer might get charged ISPS surcharge in Carrier Security Fee and/or Terminal Security Charge.
As the name implies, the carrier charges Carrier Security Fee to cover the cost incurred in implementing the ISPS code.
As the name implies, Terminal Security Charge is charged by the port to the carrier to cover the cost incurred in implementing the ISPS code at the relevant port/terminal.
Typically the ISPS charges form part of the freight quote and are required to be paid along with the freight; therefore, whoever pays the freight (shipper or consignee) will also pay the ISPS surcharge.
The quantum of the ISPS charges is set by the line depending on the port of call as some of these costs are variable.
Bearing in mind the constant threat of maritime piracy hanging over our heads, initiatives like ISPS provide us with much-needed comfort in protecting the cargo, crew, and ships. Although this may come at a cost currently, such initiatives have been designed to protect and benefit us in the long term.
How can ASL help?
We offer a full suite of services to help you comply with the ISPS Code in the most practical and cost-effective manner.
We can provide you with expert security advice delivered at a level that suits your needs.
You receive the assistance you need to develop and implement an effective security management system that meets the requirements of the Code.