US insists on ISPS deadline

June, 15 2004

The Us Coast Guard (USCG) plans to board every vessel calling at a US port for the first time after July 1st, 2004 deadline to verify implementation of its security plan. The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code and the US maritime transportation Security Act require every port and ship to be compliant with the approved security plan by July 1st. After this, vessels making port calls at non-ISPS countries may also be delayed by enforcement actions, even being denied entry into US waters. Vessels not covered by the ISPS code will also have to be inspected with every call. USCG spokeswoman Jolie Shifflet said vessels that already had an international Ship Security Certificate (ISSC) should be proactive and ask for an inspection before the deadline. The USCG has also called 450 reservists and employed 100 permanent members of staff to help. One US carrier representative said it was difficult to pre-empt problems between ships and ports due to the confidentiality of each plan, but was optimistic about disruption caused by the deadline: "I just don't see the US Government cutting out commerce". However, the USCG opposes Congress' move to have the agency inspect the security plan for all vessels calling at US ports. This would increase the USCG's workload dramatically. Each flag state is responsible for vetting its own vessel security plans, and 7.000 vessels called at US ports in 2003. Admiral Thomas H. Colllins, commandant of the USCG, made it clear in July 2003: "We will trust, but verify the actions of our international partners." To increase the international compliance, the USCG' new International Port Security Programme will station international port security liaisons officers around the world, and initiate a travelling team to visit at least 45 countries a year.