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Maritime Safety and Security: Implementing ISPS Codes

Info: 3549 words (14 pages) Law Essay
Published: 4th Dec 2020

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Maritime Safety and Security

Term Paper Topic:

You work in a smaller national port. Through major international investments, the port is to be expanded into a supraregional international port. Your boss wants to know in which process steps the prerequisites of the ISPS Code have to be implemented:

  • Which national legislation is relevant?
  • Which authorities are to be involved in the procedure?


Maritime safety and security are concerned with the protection of crew life, property, and other assets on ships/ports through regulation, legislation, and by developing technology related to all forms of waterborne transportation. Securing the elements of the maritime industry is a high-security concern for governments. If we think about the Titanic strategy, the international legislation and regulations were scarce then. However, the present maritime industry has various conventions, guidelines, codes, and regulations in place to ensure the safe operation of maritime business.

The aim of this paper is to discuss the safety standards and regulations in place internationally on national and international ports. Along with this, the paper will also highlight the steps required to expand a smaller national port (Gwadar Port, Pakistan) into an international port bale to welcome trade and business from across the globe. In doing so, the paper will discuss the prerequisites of the ISPS code to be implemented to identify which national legislation will be relevant in the expansion of the national port. Furthermore, the report will also discuss which authorities will be involved in the procedure for expansion purposes. Following this, the list of organizations involved will be highlighted and any structural changes that need to be changed will also be reviewed.

International Maritime Organization

The maritime industry is one of the biggest industries across the globe, and not forgetting, one of the most dangerous. It is a well-known fact that improving sea travel and safety is by developing laws and regulations that adhere to shipping safety and are followed by all shipping nations. The International Maritime Organization became operational in 1959 with the aim of adopting a new version of SOLAS, i.e. International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. Since its establishment, the IMO developed and adopted various standards, conventions, and international collision regulations for seafarers, along with the codes and rules for facilitating international maritime traffic, carrying and transportation of dangerous goods and managing load lines (International Maritime Organization, 2019).

The maritime industry has defined a set of rules and regulations for the shipping personnel as well as the safe operation of the ships. Implementing rules and regulations are imperative if a standardized system of working on the port is required to ensure maritime safety. As previously mentioned, the IMO is responsible for implementing amending different codes and regulations as per the type of ships, goods transported, cargo operations, crew safety, load lines maintenance, and etc. Various regulations exist in maritime safety and security. A few of them will be discussed here in this paper.

Code of conduct for the merchant Navy is in regard to a specific set of rules outlined to ensure personal conduct on board a merchant ship is in adherence and abides by the law. Code for safe working practices provides guidance to ensure health and safety on board. Fire Test Procedure code and the FSS (Fire safety system) code deals with fire fighting appliances and allows the manufacturers and shipbuilders to construct equipment and vessels to be used on board (Bhattacharjee, 2019). The two most important and commonly used codes in the maritime industry are ISM (International Safety Management) and ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security). The ISM Code provides an international standard for the safe operations of ships, vessels, and regulates law for preventing sea pollution (Maritime and Coastguard Agency, 2019). ISM code development was catalyzed by the loss of Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987. It was estimated the majority of the maritime accidents occurred due to human error. Hence the IMO asked the Maritime Safety Committee to develop regulations and guidelines for shore safety and to ensure safe maritime operation at the coast and while in the sea.

ISPS Code in Shipping

The second most important code in the maritime operations industry is ISPS code which was implemented by the IMO on July 1st, 2004. The ISPS code facilities the maritime industry's operation by assigning responsibilities to government authorities, port facilities and operational authorities, shipping companies involved in the maritime business, and seafarers. The code applies majorly to the ships on international travel or voyages, including the cargo as well as the passenger ships. The ISPS (International Ship and Supplier Association, 2016).

The main aim of the ISPS code in shipping is to protect the shipping industry by looking after the ships, seafarers, the port workers, and any other personnel/equipment associated with port operations. The ISPS also ensures the implementation and execution of preventive measures in case of security threats. The ISPS code monitors people and cargo activities on the port and in the sea. It detects and implements security measures in case of security threats to which the personnel, port, or the boarded vessel are accustomed to. The code also establishes various roles and responsibilities to the contracting government authorities, agencies, local companies involved, and the shipping/port facilities. This code also helps in establishing clear roles and responsibilities for the state port officers and onboard shipping officers to deal with security issues at national as well as international level. Along with this, the ISPS code also helps in collecting shipping data and security-related information from the worldwide ports and the maritime industrial network. The figure below shows the implementation of the ISPS code:

Figure 1 ISPS Code Implementation Internationally (Bhattacharjee, 2019)

The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of the ISPS code and its clauses that stimulates the expansion of a national port, i.e. Gwadar Port in Pakistan to an international port. for this, various measures have to be taken and implemented in Pakistan in the city of Gwadar and contracting authorities has also be taken into consideration who are involved in running the Gwadar port. The next section will discuss the Gwadar port, its current operations, and how it can be expanded to an international port.

Gwadar Port

Gwadar port, the third national port in Pakistan is a deep seaport situated in the City of Gwadar, Balochistan and on the coast of the Arabian Sea. This port is a prominent feature of the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) Plan. Currently, Pakistan has two main international sea-ports that are operational, i.e. Karachi Port and Port Qasim (Gwadar Port Authority (2019). However, due to the expansion of economic investments and more trades through the sea, the two existing ports are unlikely to keep up with the pace and accommodate the demand growth, hence resulting in a need for a third international fully operational port to fill the gap.

The Gwadar port offers lots of investment opportunities in areas such as storage, warehousing, trade, import/export, travel, as well as tourism. As per the Gwadar Port Authority (2019), the port is supposed to work as a gateway port for Pakistan and the world. It is supposed to form a world-class maritime hub that can work as an international port. A lot of investment needs to be done in this case. However, in doing so, the national legislation needs to be accounted for, the authorities involved need to be looked at, and the ISPS code prerequisites need to be investigated. The exiting ports have nearly no expansion capacity. Whereas Gwadar port and the ongoing projects around there promise to handle at least one million tons of cargo annually. This is further supported by providing significant industrial oil, and transportation infrastructure (Kanwal, 2018).

Expanding Gwadar Port to an International Port

Port facilities' security is a prime concern when the port covers international operations. It is a risk management activity that relies on eliminating the source to combat any security threats. In order to understand what security measures are important in port operations, the Pakistani government needs to assess the security threats and evaluate the results of any security breaches or terrorism that might occur and cause the failure of Gwadar port operations. For port and shipping operations to be compliant, they need to possess the ISSC, i.e. International Ship Security Certificate (IMO, 2019). The SOLAS contracting governments implement the ISPS code. The detailed implementation will be done by the Pakistani government and the national shipping corporation of Pakistan.

In order to expand the Gwadar port form a national port to an international one, the risk management strategy has to be taken into account. From the ship's perspectives, the ship security plans, the onboard equipment assessment, the responsibilities of the security officers and the operational requirements to the ships have to be considered. In terms of the port facilities, the port facility's security plan, security equipment, and the responsibility of the port security officers are of prime importance. As per the ISPS code regulations, the only logical counteraction to deal with the security threats is to reduce its vulnerability, and this is only possible by ensuring security communications are well accounted for and all the monitoring/controlling access features are dealt with high confidentiality.

Relevant National Legislation to expand Gwadar Port

Pakistan's Ministry of Maritime Affairs is responsible to facilitate the ports and shipping industry across the country. The Ministry provides policy guidelines to promote port development and growth, at the same time adhering to the safety standards. The Ministry is the central administrative authority of the Government of Pakistan and is headed by the Federal Minister of the maritime affairs. The Ministry of maritime affairs works with the PNSC, i.e. the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation to implement the ISM and ISPS codes for port operations.

  • ISPS Certification: PNSC has already implemented the ISPS code on all of its equipment and vessels and these vessels are audited by the RSO, i.e. the Bureau Veritas. Thus, they are then issued the International Ship security certificate (International Ship and Supplier Association, 2016).
  • Training, Drills, and Exercises: The next process in expanding the national Gwadar port to an international one is compliance with the SOLAS "Chapter IX-2" Regulation. This regulation states that the vessels and ships owned and operated by the port should be identified using the Ship Security Alarm.  Another important prerequisite for classifying as an international port under the ISPS code is to have the Ship Security Officers and the Company Security officers to be trained and certified as under the ISPS code (PNSC, 2019).

The ISPS code (9) identifies the duties and responsibilities of the CSO (company security Officer), SSO (Ship Security Officer), and the PFSO (Port Facility Security Officer) in detail in its Guidelines. The CSO is responsible for all ship security, SSO responsible for each ship operated by the company, and the PFSO responsible for the security of the port and its facilities.

  • Ship Security Plan: The ISPS code requires ports to conduct security drills as a part of the effective implementation of the Ship security plans. These drills need to be scheduled and dispatched by the CSO. Along with this, the security drills should be conducted regularly to test signals, communications, response, and resource availability. Along with this, the PNSC has developed training sessions for the Port crew in the national language (Urdu) for them to get familiarized with the ISPS courses and regulations (PNSC, 2019).
  • Port Security Plan: The salient features of the port security plan should include a compulsory requirement for all vessels to have an ISPS certificate. Routine safety inspections should also be carried out. The port facility's security plan should be based on the security assessment (International Ship and Supplier Association, 2016). The security plan should be protected from unauthorized access to avoid confidentiality breaches.
  • PFSO: A PFSO should be designated at all the ports operational within a country. The PFSO will conduct security assessments of the ports, implement a port facility security plan and will be supported by the Pakistan shipping corporation in compliance with Chapter XI-2 of the ISPS code (International Ship and Supplier Association, 2016).

All these clauses work with the few national legislation of the maritime industry of Pakistan, including the Merchant Shipping Policy, KPT Act 1886, Carriage of goods by Sea Act 1925, Merchant Act 1923, Marine Insurance Act 1938, and many more. Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance (2001) has Section 554, 555, and 556 that any vessels on port have to abide by the environmental safety laws and cannot discharge any harmful substances into the sea (Tahir, 2017). The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency Act (1997) also plays an important role as it allows Pakistan maritime industry to explore and exploit the port and surrounding areas for economic growth and also to protect the port and the sea from any unauthorized resource exploitation. Along with this, the Gwadar Port Authority Ordinance (2002) will also be taken into consideration when expanding the port to international trade and business.

Authorities Involved in Expanding Gwadar Port

The PNSC is the main organization behind the shipping industry in Pakistan. Along with them, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Government Shipping Office, Ports and Shipping wings in Karachi, the Gwadar Port Authority, Pakistan Marine Academy, and the Mercantile Marine Department will also be considered when planning the expansion of the Gwadar port to reach international borders.

The Ministry of Maritime Affairs is the central administrative body to deal with maritime laws, regulations, and policies. Its primary responsibility is to facilitate the ports and shipping industry of Pakistan. They are assigned the responsibility of developing guidelines for port operations, identifying opportunities for growth, and thus ensuring this safety standard ar maintained. The next in line is the Gwadar Port Authority which we have discussed already in this paper before. Expanding Gwadar port to cover international business will not be possible without winning the trust of the Gwadar port authority's board of directors.

Following this, the Government shipping office also needs to be taken into consideration their main function is to facilitate Pakistani seaman and issue them their seaman service book. This office is also responsible for the engaging new crew on ships, examine ships' paperwork, and also to grant clearance to incoming and outgoing merchant ships (Government Shipping Office, 2019). This is a very important factor here. Without the involvement of the government shipping office, getting ship clearance will become very difficult and hence will hinder the maritime industry's growth and economic development of the port. The Mercantile department is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Ports and shipping in Pakistan and is an integral component of the maritime safety administration. The purpose of this department is to ensure sea and port safety, navigation safety, and protection of the marine environment by implementing the merchant shipping ordinance, national rules, and the international maritime industry's regulations for seafarers (Mercantile Marine Department, 2019).

Though these organizations playa n important role in developing and maintaining the maritime industry of Pakistan, still much needs to be done to ensure safe and sound operation of the Gwadar Port. The PNSC needs to invest in maritime laws that will give preference and protection of vessels. Pakistan's prime land location can serve as an international hub for many countries. Along with this, the PNSC has to deal with high transportation costs, poor turnaround time of coastal ships, port delays, and inadequate training (Asghar, 2019).

Until now, we have discussed the steps involved in expanding the Gwadar port from a national port to an international one. This included the national legislation involved, a detailed analysis of the ISPS code and the organizations involved in executing the plan. The next few sections of the paper will discuss what other organizations can be involved in this strategic expansion plan and what structural and organizational changes need to be made to execute the plan.

References: Student 1 (Kanwal Iftikhar)

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