The ISPS code is applicable to all so called SOLAS vessels which are over 500gross tons (IMO 2001). However it does not apply to small boats that could be used as weapons against bigger vessels. Michael Chertoff of U.S homeland security mentioned 4 major concerns on the threat of 17 million ‘small boats’. One of the concerns was “boats being used as launching pads for an attack on the maritime industry or on critical infrastructure”. The ISPS code does not apply in this instance.
Piracy has become one of the major concerns of the IMO and has been described by UN security general as completely unacceptable and has urged a coordinated response to stem piracy. In an open letter in February 2011, IMO Secretary- General Efthimos Mitropoulos noted that more needs to be done if the ultimate goal of consigning piracy to the realms of history. In March 2011 IMO Member Ukraine submitted a proposal on introducing special measures to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery against ships while implementing the ISPS code. In conjunction with this British Prime Minister announced recently that cargo ships sailing under a British Flag would be able to carry armed guards in the fight against pirates.
Figures from the International Maritime Bureau, showed attacks by Somali pirates numbered a record 199 in the first nine months of this year, compared with 126 in 2010 – two-thirds of all the maritime hijackings recorded. And at least 15 hostages have been murdered this year. Hence the need for the ISPS code to be changed in order to combat the threat of piracy, and its effects on international trade
**** Figure for 2011 is up to September 2011 only as yearly figure not currently available.
Source: International Maritime Bureau
The controversy here is that the ISPS Code has not been successful in eliminating acts of terrorism against the ships. Ship owners having spent huge amount of money for effective implementation of ISPS Code onboard ships, still find their ships prone to terrorist activities.
The rationale behind the development of the ISPS code was that maritime security was essentially a risk management activity. As stated by a member of the Maritime Security Section of the IMO:
The Purpose of the ISPS code is to provide standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling governments to offset changes in threat levels with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities. (Trelawny C , 2005)
As Chris Trelawny of the IMO writes “this risk...