Contracting Government

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11th 2001 alerted the maritime world to the ease with which international shipping could be used as a medium for terrorists. In December 2002, at the IMO’s headquarters in London, 108 contracting governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and adopted a number of amendments to the Convention, the most far reaching of which is the new International Ship and Port Security Facility Code (ISPS Code). The Code contains detailed security-related requirements for Governments, port authorities and shipping companies in a mandatory section (Part A), together with a series of guidelines about how to meet these requirements in a second, non-mandatory section (Part B). 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.  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. Ships will be subject to a system of survey, verification, certification, and control to ensure that their security measures are implemented. This system will be based on a considerably expanded control system as stipulated in the 1974 Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Port facilities will also be required to report certain security related information to the Contracting Government concerned, which in turn will submit a list of approved port facility security plans, including location and contact details to IMO. As well as the ISPS Code itself, the Conference adopted a series of Amendments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention, aimed at enhancing maritime security on board ships and at ship/port interface areas. Among other things, these amendments create a new SOLAS chapter dealing specifically with maritime security, which in turn contains the mandatory requirement for ships to comply with the ISPS Code.