Ship Security Planning Key Elements

Under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, it is mandatory to have a Ship Security Plan (SSP). An SSP is created to give guidance on measures in place on board the ship, something to be adhered to in times of crisis and threats. It is the responsibility of the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to implement the ships SSP to protect the personnel and cargo on-board through designating responsibilities and procedures to follow. Having a strong SSP will prevent lack of clarity during such occasions. As it is mandated by the ISPS, an SSP is a crucial document for all vessels to have.

When in port, consideration must be taken into account for the following; the security level of the port facility, equipment and measures in place to prevent any unauthorised access onboard, measures to handle unauthorised access onboard, and appointing a person to be the Ship Security Officer (SSO).

The SSP must be prepared by an approved organisation after a thorough assessment of the vessel for security following guidance from the ISPS Code.

We will go through the key elements that must be known when creating an SSP.

  • Having measures in place to prevent dangerous weapons and substances on board is a priority, as to not risk any personnel’s safety on the vessel.
  • In the instance security has been breached and there is a security threat, there must be procedures set in place to follow for all crew onboard.
  • Assigning onboard personnel to security duties reduces chaos during security incidents, giving more clear and concise instructions to be on the same page.
  • Introducing restricted areas and measures will prevent unauthorised access, making managing, controlling and potential security threats much easier.
  • Practicing security drills and exercises is one of the best methods to prepare for any security threat and cannot be underestimated in how useful it can be. Having experience to know what to do will give confidence when faced with a threat.
  • Having a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) this is activated in the case of an attempted piracy attack, terrorists, or any other incident which can be defined as a threat to the ship under the maritime security. The ship’s SSAS beacon would be activated, responding to which an appropriate law-enforcement or military forces would be dispatched for rescue.
  • Having a designated chief security officer (CSO) and ship security officer (SSO) with duties and contact information that can be easily available to anyone who requires them.
  • Establishing procedures for reporting security incidents aids in documenting all risks and is also a requirement under the ISPS code.
  • It is vital to have secure and updated software on all of the ships systems, and continue to make sure they stay updated. Cybersecurity is a trending topic amongst vessels, as a new wave of attacks come from things like ransomware, malware, viruses etc. Keeping software on everything updated will lessen the likelihood of these sorts of attacks.
  • Lastly it is important to establish a procedure for reviewing and updating the SSP. Continuous checking and clarifying, reviewed by the CSO will ensure the security of the vessel and the SSP is not in any risk of being outdated.