Shipping is the backbone of international trade, as over 90% of all trade-related shipping is through the oceans. But braving the vast ocean for months is not for the faint-hearted. The risk related to economic losses and loss of life is also high. The threat of terrorism and violence in the maritime world has also been increasing. It is to curb these rising threats and risks-levels that there are safety measures in place which are implemented by the International Maritime Convention (IMO). 

There are different safety and security measures to ensure the safety of the ship, crew and cargo. One such safety measure is the Ship Security Plan (SSP). A Ship security plan or SSP is a detailed document specifying the action to be taken. 

In this article, we talk about SSP – what it is, its contents, implementation and more.

What is a Ship Security Plan?

SSP or Ship Security Plan is a mandatory document under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. An SSP is developed to provide direction on the procedures to be followed onboard a ship during emergencies and threats. The Chief Security Officer (CSO) is in charge of establishing roles and procedures to be followed to implement the ship’s SSP to protect the people and cargo on board. Lack of clarity during such situations can be avoided by having a solid SSP. An SSP is a crucial document that all vessels must have because the ISPS requires it.

Who prepares the Ship Security Plan & Who Approves it?

The SSP must comply with the ISPS Code, which is ensured by the Company Security Officer (CSO), who is also in charge of its preparation. Additionally, he is in charge of keeping the SSP up to date and obtaining the required authorization from the Recognized Security Organization. The Ship Security Officer carries out the rules outlined in the SSP (SSO). He is in charge of everything, including running drills and informing the crew of their responsibilities in accordance with the SSP. He is also in charge of reviewing the plan and notifying the CSO of any shortcomings.

What are the contents of the Ship Security Plan?

An SSP will have security measures for different aspects of the ship. Here is a list of different areas the SSP addresses. 

  • Measures against using dangerous weapons and hazardous substances that can cause harm to the ship and its crew.
  • Restricted areas are identified, and access to such areas is controlled by preventive action
  • Taking into account the critical operations of the ship, action to be taken at the time of a security threat or breach is listed. 
  • According to the security level, instructions laid out by the Contracting Government comply. 
  • Information regarding how to maintain critical operations of the ship and respond to the security threats
  • Evacuation procedure in case of a security breach. 
  • Procedures for training, drills and exercises as mentioned in the plan
  • Procedures for reporting and auditing security-related incidents
  • CSO and SSO are identified along with their 24-hour contact details 
  • Information regarding the methods and frequency of testing and maintaining security equipment 
  • Information about the locations of the activation points of the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) 
  • The duties of each ship’s personnel in case of a security breach are detailed.

An SSP is not subject to inspection until and otherwise specified by the Code. An inspection may not be allowed until proper evidence shows that the SSP is not being complied with. In case of plausible non-compliance, the inspection is only for those aspects that violate the SSP and not an inspection of the entire SSP. The Master of the Vessel has to consent to the inspection. When it comes to the safety and security of the vessel, the Master has an overriding authority in all matters.

Requirements For Ship Security Plan (SSP)

Several aspects are taken into account while developing an SSP. Let’s take a look at them carefully. 

  • When developing SSP, the security level of the port facility has to be taken into account
  • To prevent the carriage of unauthorised units on board that may cause a threat to the ship. 
  • Ship Security Personnel establishes measures against unwanted access to the ship
  • A Ship Security Officer is appointed on board to execute the SSP
  • SSP should be formulated by an approved organisation depending upon the Code Interpretation
  • A thorough security assessment of the ship has to be taken before the plan is developed while taking into account the guidance laid out in the ISPS Code

Implementation of Ship Security Plan (SSP)

Implementing the SSP with diligence is what makes it effective. It is the duty of the SSO to ensure the SSP is implemented to the best possible extent. 

The SSO is vital to carrying out the SSP as the SSP has to carry out training and drills, specify personnel about their respective duties etc. An appraisal is also carried out along with briefings and debriefings to check the level of contribution of the personnel. 

 The SSO identifies any shortcomings of the plan under the auspices of the Master. In case of any, a review and remedial measures are sent to the CSO as suggestions to keep the SSP updated. The security aspect of it is also upheld without compromise. 

 Any recommendations to alter the current plan must be supported by a thorough evaluation of the vessel’s security.

The threats that are intended to be made to shipping are constantly changing. The ship’s security is not just for show; it is also for the actual protection of the ship and all of its resources, with human capital being the most valuable. Thus the SSP and its implementation have to be given due importance.

Final Thoughts

A ship’s safety is paramount to its proper functioning of the ship. The ship, its personnel and operations are all bound by safety to ensure its total safety. SBNTech’s Shipmate is a leading provider of Ship Safety Management Systems. Our holistic software can be customized according to the needs of the customer. Reach out to Shipmate for a request for a demo.

Frequently Asked Questions

What language must be used for the ship security plan?

The SSP is written in the working language of the ship. A translation is included if the working language is not English, French or Spanish. 

Who prepares the ship’s security plan?

Based on the ship security assessment (SSA), the Company Security Officer (CSO) prepares the risk assessment and possible updates. 

Why is there a need to review the ship’s security plan?

It protects the personnel, cargo, cargo transport units and stores from security risks. Keeping it updated is necessary to maintain the ship’s security during critical times. 

When do we need to amend the SSP?

The SSP is amended if the current SSP affects the ship’s security performance.