ISPS Code: Responsibilities And Security Levels

ISPS Code Responsibilities And Security Levels - Merchant Navy Info - blog

The security levels under the ISPS code clearly explain the current scenario related to the term security level. This refers to the hazard to the country and its coastal region. It includes the ships visiting that country.

The term security level refers to the cooperating ship and port authorities’ consideration of the current national and international security conditions.

Keep in mind that the ship should always maintain a MARSEC level that is equal to or higher than the MARSEC level of the port.

These duties are different for people of different levels. Moreover, regular security drills are also performed onboard ships.

As soon as the security level has been determined according to the ISPS code, it is displayed prominently at the ship’s entrance.

Remember that the ship’s MARSEC level should always match or exceed the port’s MARSEC level.

The term security level refers to the following points:

  • Checking the identity of all people boarding/wanting to board the vessel
  • Designated secure places are founded in liaison with the PFSO.
  • Separate checked persons from those unchecked for ease of operation.
  • Separating embarkation and disembarkation
  • Remember to secure all access points against unauthorized access.
  • Securing areas that give access to personnel
  • Giving security briefings to all ship personnel on every possible threat and the levels associated with the port
  • Compliance with the SSP at all times

MARSEC Level 1 of The ISPS Code

The normal level at which the ship or port facility operates daily. Level 1 ensures that security guys maintain minimum appropriate security around the clock.

In this, all those liable to the board must be checked. The frequency of these searches should be specified in the SSP. They are to be carried out in coordination with the port management.

We must remember the human rights side of the individual being searched and ensure that the search does not violate their dignity.

  • The crew regularly maintains minimum security measures onboard and in port.
  • Ship and port operation is done per the ship and port facility security plan.
  • The port facility ensures the ‘no access’ areas are under surveillance.
  • The ship and port authority mutually supervise cargo and store loading and unloading operations, ensuring access control and other minimum-security measures.
  • Minimum access in the ship is controlled at all times.

MARSEC Level 2 of The ISPS Code

A heightened level for some time during a security risk that is visible to security personnel. At this security level, the right additional measures will be conducted.

The SSP should establish measures to protect against the heightened risk at this level. Higher vigilance and tighter control of the ship’s security are in play here.

  • Assigning additional personnel to patrol the access areas
  • Deterring waterside access to the ship
  • Establishing a restricted area on the shoreside of the ship
  • Raising the search frequency and details of the people due to board or disembark
  • Escorting all people onboard
  • Additional security briefings to the ship’s personnel with emphasis on the security level
  • Doing a full or partial search of the ship

MARSEC Level 3 of The ISPS Code

We will implement additional security measures to deal with an upcoming or ongoing incident. These measures will need to be in place for a limited time period. The security measures must be foolproof to make sure things work well. Even though a specific target might still need to be identified.

Make sure to address the security threat and illuminate the ship’s deck, access points, and vicinity in darkness as needed.

  • Limiting access to a single managed access point
  • Granting access strictly to authorized personnel or those responding to any security incident
  • Control of embarkation and disembarkation
  • Suspension of cargo movements and stores, etc.
  • If need be, the evacuation of the ship
  • Close monitoring of the movement of those on board
  • Preparing for a full or not full search of the ship

Restricted Areas As Per The ISPS Code

The purpose of such areas is to limit access, protect the people on board, and protect the cargo from pilferage, tampering, etc.

The restricted places may include the navigation bridge, machinery spaces, spaces with security-related machinery, ventilation spaces, spaces containing IMDG cargo, accommodation, and any other areas specified per the SSP.

About the restricted areas, the measures to be applied to them are as follows:

MARSEC Level 1

  • Locking/securing access points
  • Using surveillance equipment to monitor areas
  • Thorough patrolling
  • Using an alarm system to alert the ship’s personnel in case of unwanted entry

Level 2 of MARSEC

  • Making restricted areas in the vicinity of the access points
  • Constantly monitoring surveillance equipment.
  • More personnel for patrolling said areas

MARSEC Level 3

  • Setup of controlled areas near the access areas at the highest level of stringency
  • Searching for limited areas as part of the ship search

Cargo Handling As Per The ISPS Code

Cargo operations have security protocols in place to prevent tampering and the carriage of any unauthorized or unestablished cargo onboard. As a reference:

MARSEC Level 1

  • Regular checks on cargo, move units, cargo spaces
  • Matching cargo with the paperwork
  • Loading vehicles subjected to search in cahoots with the PFSO
  • Checking seals to limit tampering

Level 2 of MARSEC

  • Detailed checking of cargo, transport units, and cargo spaces
  • Intense check of the loading vehicles
  • Increased times of inspecting seals

MARSEC Level 3

  • Suspension of loading and discharging
  • Confirm inventory of DG and hazardous substances onboard

Delivery Of Ships Stores

Stores should check packing quality, including randomly checking samples. They should accept all stores with inspection, and if accepted, they should check for tampering.

To address the security threat, illuminate the ship’s deck, access points, and vicinity in darkness as needed. Also, conduct an underwater hill check in ports prone to contraband smuggling.

MARSEC Level 1

  • Match orders with documents before loading
  • Stow the stores securely

Level 2 of MARSEC

  • Thorough checks before loading stores and increasing their assessments

MARSEC Level 3

  • Try to opt for transportation of stores only in case of extreme emergency.

Handling of Unaccompanied Baggage

Advanced X-rays are a key part of the baggage handling process.

MARSEC Level 1

  • Baggage screened and searched. This may include X-ray screening.

Level 2 of MARSEC

  • Full checking, including X-ray of all baggage

MARSEC Level 3

  • Limiting baggage handling
  • Refusal to accept any unaccounted-for pieces of baggage

Monitoring The Security as Per the ISPS Code

The monitoring aspect must cover lighting, watchkeepers, including security guards for patrolling, and intrusion detection devices.

Depending on the extent of the security threat, the ship should illuminate its deck, access points, and vicinity in darkness. Ports prone to contraband smuggling must carry out a check for underwater hills.

One cannot be safe without the other’s help. The SSO and PFSO’s communication and cooperation are essential to the SSP’s compliance and the upkeep of security levels.

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