MSC Intersessional Working Group on Maritime Security: 11-15 February 2002

IMO agrees raft of measures to bolster ship security
IMO Member States agreed in principle to a raft of measures to bolster ship security during the week-long meeting of its Maritime Safety Committee’s Intersessional Working Group on Maritime Security (ISWG), which met from 11-15 February 2002.

The ISWG produced a series of recommendations for further elaboration by the May 2002 meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 75) as well as other IMO bodies. The results of the MSC’s deliberations will be submitted (if appropriate) to a Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Security scheduled for December 2002, at which any new or amended legislation could be adopted.

IMO’s work on maritime security comes in response to IMO Assembly resolution A.924(22), Review of measures and procedures to prevent acts of terrorism which threaten the security of passengers and crews and the safety of ships, which was adopted in November 2001, following a submission through the Council to the Assembly by IMO Secretary-General Mr. William A. O’Neil.

The resolution calls for a review of the existing international legal and technical measures to prevent and suppress terrorist acts against ships and improve security aboard and ashore in order to reduce any associated risk to passengers, crews and port personnel on board ships and in port areas and to the vessels and their cargoes.

The measures discussed during the ISWG included the following:

·   An accelerated implementation schedule for Automatic Identification Systems on existing cargo ships
·   Amendments to SOLAS chapter XI, including a new proposed International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities
·   Proposed new requirements for ship security plans, Ship Security Officer and Company Security Officer
·   Proposed new requirements for Port Security Officer, port facility security plans and port vulnerability assessment
·   Urgent action on a revised seafarer identification document by ILO
·   The desirability of transparency of ownership and control of the ship
·   Providing a capability for seafarers to activate an alarm in the case of a terrorist hijacking
·   Inspection of containers and other units of cargo transport
·   Maritime security equipment to prevent unauthorized boarding in ports and at sea
·   Technical Co-operation - Capacity building for maritime security
·   Long-term goals

Automatic Identification Systems

The ISWG agreed in principle to accelerate the implementation schedule for the mandatory fitting of Automatic Identification Systems for all ships of 500 gross tonnage and above, on international voyages.  The final implementation date would be decided by the Diplomatic Conference on maritime security.

The requirement for ships to carry AIS was adopted in December 2000 as part of a new chapter V on Safety of Navigation in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

The requirement, entering into force on 1 July 2002, applies to all ships constructed after 1 July 2002, and to other ships on a phase-in schedule up to 1 July 2008. The requirement applies to all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged on international voyages and cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards not engaged on international voyages and passenger ships irrespective of size.AIS were developed to deliver digital information conveying a vessel’s position, identity and other related information automatically from ship to ship and from ship to shore.

The systems allow ships and coastal authorities to "see" the position of other ships, even in situations where physical obstructions would prevent radar detection.  AIS also enable ships to identify other ships.

Amendments to SOLAS chapter XI

The ISWG agreed in principle to amend SOLAS chapter XI to include special measures for maritime security and to amend the title accordingly.  The general idea for consideration by MSC 75 is to incorporate new regulations XI/5 to 7 containing definitions, requirements for ships and requirements for port facilities respectively, supported by a draft International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities, which should have a mandatory section.

The date for entry into force of the new regulations and the mandatory part of the proposed international security Code would be decided by the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Security.

SOLAS Chapter XI on Special Measures to Enhance Maritime Safety was adopted in 1994 and entered into force on 1 January 1996. Its current four regulations cover Authorization of recognized organizations, enhanced surveys, ship identification number and port State control on operational requirements.

Proposed new requirements for ship security plans, Ship Security Officer and Company Security Officer

The ISWG agreed in principle that the proposed international security Code would require all ships of 500 gross tonnage and above engaged in international voyages to carry ship security plans (SSPs). The need for such plans to be ultimately incorporated in the International Safety Management (ISM) Code was also acknowledged.  It was considered essential that the mandatory requirements relating to such plans should be developed prior to the Diplomatic Conference on maritime security. 

The Code would also include a requirement for a Ship Security Officer (SSO) and a Company Security Officer (CSO).   The training needs of the SSO would need to be developed in the context of the STCW Convention and initially his/her responsibilities should include any necessary instruction to the crew of the ship. Training requirements for the SSO would need to be developed as a matter of urgency. In the case of the CSO, responsibilities and training requirements would be included in the Code.

Proposed new requirements for port security officer, port facility security plans and port vulnerability assessment

The ISWG agreed to recommend to MSC 75 to incorporate a requirement for a Port Security Officer (PSO) and port facility security plans (PFSP). The PFSP would address only the threat for the ship from ashore, the Ship Port Interface - which needed further identification and definition. The requirement would also need to stipulate which ports it would apply to. MSC will be invited to authorize more detailed work to be undertaken in close co-operation with ILO on comprehensive PFSP requirements. 

There was concern that it may not be appropriate to require such plans for small ports.  Port Vulnerability Assessment (PVA) was considered an essential part of the port facility security process and it was agreed that a new requirement for PVA would be incorporated in the proposed international security Code. There would also be a need to develop guidance/criteria for PVA based on the existing level of threat.

Urgent action on revised seafarer identification document

The ISWG agreed on the need for urgent action on a revised seafarer identification document. 

The Secretary-General of IMO has written to the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), emphasising the importance the Member States of IMO give to revising the ILO seafarer identification document as a significant contribution to enhanced maritime security and requesting early action on this matter, offering the assistance of IMO in this process.

It was hoped that the ILO Director-General would bring this matter to the attention of his governing body in March 2002, proposing that a new protocol to amend the ILO Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention of 1958 (No. 108) be developed for adoption by the ILO General Conference in June 2003.

The desirability of transparency of ownership and control of the ship

The ISWG discussed the issue of provision of information on the ship, its cargo and people and agreed that transparency of ownership and control of the ship was desirable. However, this could be difficult to achieve.  Nevertheless the owner of a ship needed to be defined in future, bearing in mind that many IMO instruments place responsibilities on the shipowner, who may, however, not be easy to identify. 

The Legal Committee has been invited to comment on the ownership and control of the ship at its next session in April (LEG 84) and the issue should be further considered at MSC 75, based on the comments from LEG 84 and substantive proposals submitted.

Providing a capability for seafarers to activate an alarm in the case of a terrorist hijacking

The ISWG agreed that the Sub-Committees on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR), Ship Design and Equipment (DE) and Safety of Navigation (NAV) should be requested to consider means for providing a capability for seafarers to activate an alarm to notify authorities and other ships of a terrorist hijacking. The Sub-Committees will consider whether  such an alarm should be surreptitious.

Inspection of containers and other cargo transport units

The ISWG recommended the formalization of co-operation with the World Customs Organization (WCO) on the question of cargo/container inspection. The ISWG noted the need to ensure that the effective and efficient flow of multi-modal cargo is maintained, in spite of the need for cargo security. IMO should work together with WCO through an appropriate mechanism with the aim of establishing international measures that would enhance the integrity of all cargo.

In view of the annual volumes of containers being moved globally (about 150 million full and 40 million empty container movements in 2001), the ISWG considered this issue to be a particularly complex and difficult one to solve in the short term.  Facilitation of maritime traffic needed to be balanced against the desire for maritime security. 

Maritime security equipment to prevent unauthorized boarding in ports and at sea 

DE 49 (meeting in March) is set to consider the issue of maritime security equipment to prevent unauthorized boarding in ports and at sea and report to MSC 75. The ISWG recognized that the kind of equipment to be used on board would largely depend again on risk assessment (e.g. ship types, trading areas, etc.) and that this impacted on the Ship Security Plan. If appropriate, a new regulation may be incorporated in the international security Code to require ship security equipment.

Technical Co-operation - Capacity building for maritime security

The ISWG noted need for technical co-operation in combating threats to maritime security in terms of technology, expertise and hardware to cope with the challenges, should the threat become real.  The assistance programme would focus on such matters as international or regional co-operation in form of information exchange, pooling of equipment and training of enforcement personnel, seafarers and port personnel.

IMO’s technical co-operation programme on maritime security, “Capacity building for maritime security”, has already been instigated by the Organization’s Technical Co-operation Division, in response to Assembly resolution A.924(22).

The resolution requests the Secretary-General to take appropriate measures, within the Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme, to assist Governments to assess, put in place or enhance, as the case may be, appropriate infrastructure and measures to strengthen port safety and security to prevent and suppress terrorist acts directed against ports and port personnel as well as ships in port areas, passengers and crews. 

The programme Capacity building for maritime security is benefiting from  £1.5 million from the TC Fund, although the ISWG recognized that donations in cash and kind would be welcomed for the programme to succeed.

The programme includes the following planned activities:

Activity 1  Expert advice to the Secretariat on security issues and preparation of an outline programme for subsequent training workshops
Activity 2   Development of detailed lesson plans/manuals based on the agreed outline programme
Activity 3 Translation of all materials into French and Spanish
Activity 4  Delivery of sub-regional workshops throughout the world
Activity 5     Delivery of advisory missions/national workshops
Activity 6    Fellowships and on-the-job training attachments

It is anticipated that, as the programme develops, it will take into account the output of the ISWG, MSC and other bodies and, indeed, the needs of the users of the programme.  In the beginning, one important focus will be on “maritime domain awareness building”.  Co-operation and support will be sought from Member States, UN and intergovernmental organizations both international and regional and NGO’s in consultative status with IMO. 

In gaining experience in the implementation of the programme and from evaluating the uptake of advisory services and workshops, a long term TC programme and the funding requirement could be developed, since maritime security would continue to remain a significant component of IMO’s technical co-operation strategy and the programme.

The initial contributions from the TC Fund might be viewed as seed money, which should attract counterpart funding from bilateral and multilateral sources.  Contributions in kind would also be sought, for example, expertise, host facilities, fellowships and on the job training.

Companies and individuals with the relevant maritime security experience have already offered their expertise to the Organization, though further help from IMO Member States and organizations is being sought in identifying such experts.

Following the adoption by the Conference and entry into force of any  maritime security measures in 2004, further technical co-operation will be  needed to help developing countries to implement these new provisions and donors will be needed for such activities in due course.

Long-term goals

The ISWG agreed that, as usual, the IMO Assembly and Council would be ultimately responsible for setting the long-term agenda for IMO on issues relating to maritime security.  The MSC, MEPC, Technical Co-operation, Facilitation and Legal Committees would all have roles to play, as identified in Assembly resolution A.924(22). 

Amongst the medium to long term goals identified by the ISWG for further work (other than those mentioned above) were the following:

Review of MSC/Circ.443, issued in 1986, which includes Measures to prevent unlawful acts against passengers and crew on board ships, intended for application to passenger ships engaged on international voyages of 24 hours or more and the port facilities which service them. The measures should be expanded to cover all ship types.

Review of the SUA treaties - the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988 and the Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, 1988. This work is already being undertaken by the Legal Committee.

Review of Port Recommendations – taking into account maritime security measures.

Review of the IMO/ILO/UN ECE Guidelines for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). The 1997 guidelines (which replaced the IMO/ILO Guidelines for Packing Cargo in Freight Containers or Vehicles) apply to transport by all surface and water modes and the whole intermodal transport chain. The guidelines are endorsed by IMO and ILO and by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE).

Review of IMO’s guidance to governments and guidance shipowners, ship operators and crew on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery  - the latest guidance was issued in 1999 as Revised MSC/Circ.622 Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships and Revised MSC/Circ.623 Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships

Review of resolution A.872(20) on Guidelines for the prevention and suppression of the smuggling of drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals on ships engaged in international maritime traffic (adopted in 1997).

Outline of a port security instrument – the ISWG agreed to invite MSC 75 to consider the need for the development of the outline of a port security instrument in co-operation with ILO.