MIAMI -- A new international system of maritime security will
mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks on cruise ships and ports
when it goes into effect next year, cruise security experts said.
The system applies to the 109 member nations of the
International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations agency,
which approved it in December under the name International Ship and
Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
Under the ISPS Code, which takes effect July 1, 2004, ports as
well as passenger and cargo ships engaged in international commerce
must have a designated security officer to assess risks and deter
The ISPS Code also mandates unprecedented security training for
all members of a ship's crew, noted Jack Polderman, senior vice
president of Lloyd's Register Americas.
Security plans for ships must be certified by the government
under whose flag the ship is registered by the issuance of a
The U.S. Coast Guard will issue certificates for ships under
U.S. registry and inspect the certificates of foreign-flag vessels
calling at U.S. ports.
If the Coast Guard believes a certificate was issued improperly,
that ship may be detained or prevented from embarking U.S.
The first Coast Guard regulations governing the ISPS Code are
expected to be issued this June. Inspections will begin in January
on an advisory basis.
The code was discussed during a cruise industry conference
Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise
Lines, noted that the ICCL's 16 member lines, and some major U.S.
seaports, had already adopted some of the key features of the ISPS
Code before 9/11.
Immediately after the terrorist attacks, he said, the ICCL
cruise lines began screening passengers, their luggage and the
perimeters of all terminals. ICCL lines have bolstered their
security further by meeting every 60 days with officials of the
U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration,
Immigration Service and the Office of U.S. Naval Intelligence, he
Crye and other officials here said a major benefit of the new
ISPS Code will be to fill gaps in the worldwide security system,
particularly at overseas ports.
Even now, he said, ICCL and other industry organizations are
doing "all we can to enhance the security of ports throughout the
Another benefit expected to result from the new port security
standards is the raising of the level of passenger- and
luggage-inspection equipment in U.S. seaports to the levels already
attained at airports, according to security officials here.
According to Capt. James Watson, commanding officer of the Coast
Guard's Marine Safety Office in Miami, ships flying the flags of
states known to have lax security standards will not be admitted to
U.S. ports, similar to the way airlines with lax safety practices
are excluded from landing at U.S. airports.
Another unfinished piece of business in maritime security is the
creation of an international identification card for seafarers. The
IMO is working with the International Labor Organization to devise