IMO needs to review aspects of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) to accommodate the growing threat that drones pose to the safety and security of vessels.
Martek alerted the shipping industry last week about the potential threat that a flying unmanned vehicle could pose to vessels. Martek said drones could be loaded with explosives or another weapon by terrorists, or camera can be fitted to spy on ships.
Vessels on coastal voyages, at anchor or in port could be targets and ship operators would be powerless even if they knew that vessels would be attacked.
In Martek’s view, shipping is unprepared for these threats and not in a position to defend against them.
It has therefore called on IMO to review elements within the ISPS Code to update requirements for shipping to be better prepared.
In particular, the ISPS code Part A paragraph 1.3.3 needs review. This mandates requirements for “preventing the introduction of unauthorised weapons, incendiary devices or explosive to ships”.
It requires that Ship Security Plans (SSP) need to address counter measures to protect vessels from such threats.
This should mean aerial threats from drones as well as threats from sea and land.
“ISPS needs an urgent update to address the growing threat that drones pose to safety and security of commercial shipping,” said Martek chief executive officer Paul Luen.
“It is critical that awareness is urgently raised, and procedures updated to counter the growing threat before it is too late.”
The ISPS code requirements for Ship Security Assessments (SSA) and SSP are specific and comprehensive regarding identification and countermeasures for all risks except aerial threats.
Martek conducted a poll of company security officers and ship security officers from within its existing client base. It discovered that most of these officers were “totally oblivious to the emerging threat of drones and nor had they even contemplated this threat in their periodic reviews of the SSA/SSP”.
Martek has since contacted to all maritime non-government organisations, classification societies and flag administrations to raise the issue.
Shipping companies and port operators need to develop methods for detecting aerial security threats. They need ways to take preventive measures against these security risks that could affect ships and port facilities.
This needs to be a mandatory requirement that is set in the ISPS Code.