What would happen to ships if they do not comply with the ISPS Code requirements and if they do not have the Certificate?

The ships which do not comply with the ISPS code  requirements,  should not be issued with International Ship Security Certificates (or after the 1 July 2004, if they qualify, with an Interim International Ship Security Certificate).

In the strict legal sense and bearing in mind that we are talking about security, all Contracting Governments should direct those ships flying their flag and which are required to comply with the requirements of chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code and which have not been issued with the required certificate by the 1 July 2004 to immediately discontinue operations until they have been issued with the required certificate.A ship, which is required to comply with the requirements of chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code, is subject to control and compliance measures when in a port of another Contracting Government by officers duly authorised by that Government. 

IMO has issued MSC/Circ.1111 Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code 
This circular includes:

  • ANNEX 1 Guidance relating to the implementation of SOLAS chapter XI-2 and the ISPS code
  • ANNEX 2 Resolution MSC.159(78) interim guidance on control and compliance measures to enhance maritime Security

In simple terms, if a ship does not have a valid certificate that ship may be detained in port until it gets a certificate. Of course, the port State has various other options available at its disposal if a ship does not have a certificate.

It may expel the ship from port, it may refuse the entry of the ship into port, it may curtail the operations of the ship. In effect the measures which are in place have been designed in such a way to ensure that those ships which do not have certificates find themselves out of the market in the shortest possible time.

The consequences of either initially failing to comply or of failing to maintain continuous compliance with IMO’s special measures to enhance maritime security will be serious and far reaching. It should come as no surprise if, after July 1st, we see Governments exercising, in the interest of their own national security and in order to protect the business operations of their ports and thus their trade, the rights laid down within the framework of the control and compliance measures established in chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code.

Hence, Governments may refuse entry into their ports to those ships which have failed to comply with the ISPS Code. In addition and for the same reasons, ships which call at port facilities which have failed to comply with the ISPS Code, although they may hold a valid International Ship Security Certificate, may be faced with additional security requirements at subsequent ports of call, leading to delays and possibly denial of port entry.

With such possible scenarios looming on the horizon, owners and charterers may decide to instruct ships not to proceed to port facilities which have not complied with the requirements of the ISPS Code, primarily because of the problems such ships may encounter at subsequent ports of call. While failure to ensure compliance may have catastrophic consequences on human life and the environment, it will also damage the commercial interests of the countries concerned, will have harmful repercussions on international trade and will negatively impact the world economy.

Terrorism is not a matter of concern to one country or a group of countries – it is a global issue and we should address it as such. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. K. Annan, had put it in similar terms: “Terrorism is a global scourge with global effects.” In this particular case, maybe more than in others, prevention is better, much better, than cure. The comforting yet complacent argument that some of us may hope never to become victims of a terrorist act is of no value here. With the interdependence of the world’s economies today, the chain reaction that such an act may trigger will have a major negative impact on trade and the global economy – we will all be victims; as we would certainly have been if the attack on the Basra oil terminal had not been foiled and we would now suffer the repercussions of the major impact it would have on oil pricing- more than it has already had.


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About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.