Call to step up maritime safety against terrorism

SINGAPORE: The US Coast Guard commandant Tuesday led a call for governments worldwide to fully implement tougher new maritime regulations to forestall a seaborne equivalent of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

Admiral Thomas Collins and other maritime experts told a conference here that security had replaced safety as a focus in the industry as it sought to preserve the free flow of trade in the new security environment. 

The International Code for the Security of Ships and Port Facilities (ISPS Code) and Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) are due to come into effect from July 1 next year. 

The Solas amendments and the ISPS Code were adopted by the International Maritime Organisation at its diplomatic conference in London last month. 

Terrorism analysts have identified the industry as a vulnerable target for terrorists planning to follow up the 2001 attacks.  

The new regulations require governments, port authorities and ships to implement security measures at their own levels. 

The Solas amendments include the installation of automatic identification systems on ships.  

They also require a ship-to-shore alert system to signal emergencies, a “continuous synopsis record” to improve transparency of ownership, and a number of security measures on vessels and ports. 

“Clearly, we have a lot of work to do to make these things happen. We’ll be hard-pressed to get them all done, but it is urgent that we do so,” Collins said in a keynote address.  

“Failure is not an option,” he said.  

Singapore Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong said the threat to maritime security should be dealt with on the international, national and individual levels. 

States “must cooperate closely to protect the flow of world trade,” Yeo said.  

Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports, has taken steps to implement the new regulations, including implementation of facilities to track ships. – AFP  

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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