ISPS CODE: US imposes Condition of Entry on ships visiting non-compliant terminals

The United States Government said it has imposed Conditions of Entry (COE) on vessels originating or calling from some Nigerian port terminals which are yet to comply with the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

A statement issued yesterday by the United States Embassy in Nigeria said that the COE will require affected vessels to meet certain security measures prior to entering U.S. ports.

It said 22 port facilities in Nigeria are, however, exempted from the COE, as they have been found to have adequate security measures in place.

“The U.S. Coast Guard has worked cooperatively with the Government of Nigeria to identify and address port security deficiencies observed during assessments of numerous facilities during the past six years.

“Based on these assessments, it has determined that Nigerian ports have not fully implemented the provisions of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code, the primary international security standard, and do not have effective anti-terrorism measures in place.

“Twenty two Nigerian port facilities have demonstrated effective anti-terrorism measures and will not be subject to additional security precautions.

“The COE are not trade sanctions and do not ban Nigerian ships from entering U.S. ports. It does require ships, however, to take certain additional security-related measures while at non-exempt Nigerian port facilities, which will be verified by U.S. Coast Guard port security personnel prior to entering U.S. ports.

“The COE has no impact on shipping traffic entering Nigerian waters and/or berthing at its ports; it deals only with shipping traffic departing Nigerian ports that is destined for the United States,” the statement said.

The U.S. Government commended Nigeria for the clear delineation of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as the Designated Authority for implementation of the ISPS code.

NIMASA’s designation, it said, was a positive step, “and the United States is aware of NIMASA’s efforts to improve its oversight of Nigeria’s port facilities. The U.S. Coast Guard will continue to consult with the Government of Nigeria with the goal of achieving full ISPS Code compliance, and the removal of the Conditions of Entry.”

Most of the terminals concessioned to private operators in 2006 were cleared by the U.S Coast Guard and exempted from the Condition of Entry. They include APM Terminals Apapa, Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited, Greenview Development Nigeria Limited, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), ENL Consortium, Port and Cargo Handling Services, PTML, and West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) among others. Yet to comply terminals are mostly oil jetties and terminals.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities. It was developed in response to the perceived threats to ships and port facilities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States. The ISPS Code is implemented through chapter XI-2 Special measures to enhance maritime security in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974. The Code has two parts, one mandatory and one recommendatory.

In essence, the Code takes the approach that ensuring the security of ships and port facilities is a risk management activity and that, to determine what security measures are appropriate, an assessment of the risks must be made in each particular case. The purpose of the Code is to provide a standardised, consistent framework for evaluating risk, enabling Governments to offset changes in threat with changes in vulnerability for ships and port facilities through determination of appropriate security levels and corresponding security measures.