This year marks 10 years of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which saw the events of 9/11 impact on the maritime industry.

Upon its implementation in 2004 there were mixed reviews concerning its usefulness to the yachting sector. In 2005, (then published a letter from Captain Richard Felton, who stated he was surprised that the industry could, “speak positively of the ISPS code in relation to yachting. Any half well-run yacht already takes security seriously; it is in our own natural interests to do so. It is my opinion that unnecessary paperwork only goes to undermine the running of a yacht… The ISPS code was rushed through the IMO, and bears little or no relation to the real world in which we work.”

Ten years on, Daniel Taylor, business development manager at Andrew Weir Yacht Management, brought into perspective that, “while the yachting industry may have felt that ISPS was not relevant to them in the early days of the implementation of the code, subsequent incidents involving the capture and death of passengers on board yachts has shown in stark terms that no industry is immune to the issues that ISPS attempts to address,” he said. “The safety benefits of ISPS are more apparent when vessels are operating in at-risk waters. As such the yachting industry will not see quite the same level of benefit as commercial vessels that frequently transit high-risk waters. However, the requirement for increased general security vigilance can only benefit the physical safety of crew on board.”

Grand Harbour Marina (Malta) is fully yachts specific ISPS compliant

Dan Hooton, managing director of Spearfish, acknowledged that the IMO rushed and quickly drafted the legislation, as Captain Felton pointed out, and the Code may have been better received if it had taken longer to implement, however attitudes towards the code have changed out of pragmatism. “Since then people have accepted it alongside things like the ISM and accepted that that is part of the fact of running a vessel of a certain size. You’ve got to look at its benefits. It’s a means of making sure people are properly trained, running security on the yacht in a bit of a better manner and knowing you’re compliant so when you come into a port at level 2, you’ve got compliance rather than having to get caught up in paperwork with a port security officer. You have got focus on the operational benefits.”

Taylor also reiterated this, noting that positive aspects of the application of the code are more apparent on those yachts that are required to comply. “Private yachts and those under 500GT, which do not have to comply with the code, may find that their operations have been restricted while berthed in Port Facilities where ISPS is applied.”

With a number of marinas being developed and upgraded, Kurt Fraser, sales and marketing director of Camper & Nicholsons’ Marinas explained that for marinas, the code was a positive change, as it has encouraged marinas too look at how they operate. “Certainly new marinas who want to cater for superyachts that take the ISPS conditions into account during design, generally existing facilities comply with little modification to the fabric of the marina and most ISPS compliance comes from staff training,” Fraser said. “The ISPS was implemented primarily for the security of commercial ports, which were seen as a weak spot for terrorism attacks, the import of weapons and the trafficking of people, they have been broadly applied to marinas who wish to comply and by virtue of the fact that marinas take the security of the vessels under their care seriously, they tend to fall into line with most of the ISPS requirements.”

Profile links

Andrew Weir Yacht Management

Spearfish Maritime Security Ltd

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