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Saturday, October 20, 2018


As previously reported, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 75th session agreed to several major proposals on international maritime security, including a risk management based approach to ensuring security in the proposed International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

The proposed ISPS Code would be implemented through SOLAS and includes provisions for port security risk assessments, ship security plans, ship and company security officers, communications between a ship and port facility, and establishment of three security levels 1, 2 and 3 that correspond to low, medium, and high threat conditions. An increase in security level would require a ship and port facility to take increased security measures. MSC 75 also agreed ships should be subject to certification and surveys to ensure security measures are in place and implemented. MSC 75 agreed to convene a second intersessional working group on 9-13 September 2002 to further its preparatory work in advance of the diplomatic conference scheduled to be convened in December 2002. There has also been activity on maritime security issues in the US over the past few weeks with President Bush announcing the creation of a new Department of Homeland Security and the passing of the Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002 by the House of Representatives.

Department of Homeland Security

During a nationally televised speech on June 6, 2002, President Bush announced his intention of creating a new cabinet level organization, a ‘Department of Homeland Security’. The new Department will empower a single Cabinet official with the primary mission of protecting the American homeland from terrorism. The Department is to be organized around four divisions: border and transportation security; emergency preparedness and response; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures; and information analysis and infrastructure protection.

Of particular interest to the maritime industry is the border and transportation function. It is proposed that the new Department unify authority over major federal security operations related to U.S. borders, territorial waters, and transportation systems. The new Department would assume responsibility for functions now performed by the Coast Guard, Customs Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture, and the recently created Transportation Security Administration, in order to allow a single government entity to manage entry into the United States.

Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security would be responsible for securing the United States’ borders and transportation systems, which straddle 350 official ports of entry. The Department would manage who and what enters the United States, and would endeavour to prevent the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism while simultaneously ensuring the flow of legitimate traffic. It will be the single federal Department in charge of all ports of entry, including security and inspection operations, and would manage and coordinate port of entry activities of other federal departments and agencies.

Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002

On 4 June 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002”. The U.S. Senate passed related legislation last December. The House bill is modelled after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, requiring national and area specific antiterrorism plans, vessel and facility antiterrorism plans, contracted means to deter emergencies, qualified individuals and training and drills. A joint committee of both the House and Senate will now consider the legislation as there is also a Senate Bill relating to maritime security.

The House bill, as passed, directs the Secretary of Transportation to: (1) assess port vulnerability; (2) prepare a National Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Plan for deterring catastrophic emergencies; and (3) review and approve Area, vessel, and facility antiterrorism plans.

The House and Senate must now meet in conference to reconcile differences between their versions of this legislation. While it was assumed that both chambers would move rather quickly to do this, the proposal for the new Department of Homeland Security may delay this process. There are several elements of the legislation that will be affected by the realignments caused by the proposals for the new Department. Obviously, the legislation contains several provisions that are of serious concern to the maritime community, some of which represent fairly parochial interests using the legislation for commercial gain. There are several items of international interest that will no doubt attract diplomatic attention and hostile comment.

It remains to be seen how these proposals will work in concert with the maritime security proposals now being developed in the IMO.

For further information:

Contact: Dragos Rauta,
or Svein Ringbakken,