Industry Issues

Vessels and Ports

International liner ships and the port facilities at which they call adhere to the international standards and procedures set forth in the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. In addition to the ISPS Code, the IMO, other international organizations, and the United States have implemented additional programs and requirements to enhance the security of vessels and port facilities.

International Requirements

International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code

In recognition of the need for a consistent global approach to maritime security, in December 2002, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), led by the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard, adopted a comprehensive new ship and port facility security regime called the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which entered into force on July 1, 2004. Read more about the ISPS code from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Specifically, the Code requires that each vessel whose flag state is a party to the IMO Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) develop and implement a ship security plan. Similarly, the Code requires that each SOLAS port facility develop and implement a facility security plan that is approved by the country in which the port facility is located. Read more from the IMO about the IMO's ISPS Code and SOLAS.

International Labor Organization (ILO) Code of Practice on Security in Ports

In 2004, the ILO Governing Body and International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved the ILO Code of Practice on Security in Ports for publication.The Code of Practice lays out recommendatory guidelines for developing port security plans that encompass all of the port facilities and marine terminal in a given port area.The Code of Practice also recommends that every port establish a port security advisory committee to advise on the development, implementation and testing of the port security plan. Read the ILO Code of Practice on Security in Ports.

U.S. Requirements

U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002

Concurrent with the passage on the ISPS Code, the U.S. Coast Guard issued final regulations to implement the requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) and meet the U.S. responsibilities as a signatory to SOLAS and the ISPS Code.

The MTSA rules also took effect July 1, 2004 and require, among other things, the completion of port and vessel vulnerability assessments, the creation of a national and area maritime security plans, and the creation of vessel and port facility security plans. Read a Summary of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002

Foreign Port Security Assessments

The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA) included a requirement that the U.S. Coast Guard implement a program to assess the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures in the seaports of America’s maritime trading partners.In 2003, the U.S. Coast Guard established the International Port Security (IPS) Program to improve maritime security by engaging in bilateral and multilateral discussions and visits with maritime trading nations.Through this program, U.S. Coast Guard officials meet with foreign government officials and visit port facilities to observe ISPS Code implementation and share maritime security best practices. Learn more about the IPS Program from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard factors the results of these visits into its pre-arrival vessel risk assessments, which the agency uses to select which arriving ships it will subject to security inspections.Vessels arriving into the United States after having called at port facilities in countries that are not adequately implementing the ISPS Code are subject to additional scrutiny and must demonstrate that they implemented increased security measures while calling at a less secure port prior to transit to the United States.

U.S. Notice of Arrival (NOA) Requirements

As the lead U.S. agency for port and vessel security, the U.S. Coast Guard published rules in late 2001 requiring all large commercial vessels bound for the U.S. to file a Notice of Arrival (NOA) message 96 hours prior to arrival at the first U.S. port of call. NOAs include vessel, voyage, cargo and crewmember information and must now be filed electronically with the Coast Guard’s National Vessel Movement Center using a new system called the electronic Notice of Arrival and Departure (eNOA/D). Learn more about the eNOA/D.

Ship Identification and Tracking

Long-Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT)

In May 2006 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) adopted new regulations setting performance standards and functional requirements for the installation of LRIT systems aboard ships of 300 gross tons and larger. By the end of 2009, ships will be required to transmit the ship's identity, location, and date and time of the position to the ship’s flag state administration, to coastal states the ship is operating near, or to the port state to which the ship is destined. Learn more from the IMO.

On December 21, 2007, The Council provided comments on the U.S Coast Guard proposed rulemaking for Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships. Read WSC's comments

Automatic Identification System (AIS)

AIS is a maritime navigation safety communications system that was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and that provides vessel information, including the vessel's identity, type, position, course, speed, navigational status and other safety-related information automatically to other ships and shore stations. Learn more about AIS.

Cyber Risk Management

Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships

The IMO Maritime Safety Committee Resolution MSC.428(98), which was adopted in 2017, requires vessels to incorporate cyber risk management practices into their Safety Management Systems (SMS) in accordance with the objectives and functional requirements of the ISM Code no later than the first annual verification of the shipping company's Document of Compliance after 1 January 2021. 

WSC participates in a multi-association effort to develop joint industry “Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships”, which are regularly updated to include the latest available risk information, cyber risk management guidance, IMO requirements, and operational practices. Download Guidelines on Cybersecurity Onboard Ships 4.0