Ship Security Plan (SSP) is a plan that is formulated to ensure that that the measures laid out in the plan with respect to the security of the ship are applied onboard. This is in place to protect the personnel, cargo, cargo transport units, stores etc from any security related risks. The plan specifies responsibilities and procedures to counteract any anticipated threat to the vessel and her cargo.

The ISPS Code makes it mandatory for a vessel to have such a plan in place. The SSP must lay out the protective measures for each security level vis a vis ship related activities, access control onboard, monitoring of the restricted areas, cargo handling, receiving of stores/baggage etc. The CSO must ensure that the ship is provided with such a plan commensurate with the ISPS Code. The SSP is a critical document, the information of which is to be restricted to designated personnel onboard and not shared deliberately; the plan must be protected from unauthorised access or disclosure.


Developed for each ship, the SSP should take into account the security level of the port facility
Measures and equipment to prevent any threat to the ship and to prevent carriage of any unauthorised units onboard
Ship Security Personnel (SSP) must establish measures against unwanted access to the ship
As per SSP, a Ship Security Officer (SSO) must be appointed onboard to execute the SSP
Depending upon the Code interpreted and followed, the SSP should be formulated by an approved Organisation
The plan must be developed after a thorough security assessment of the ship taking into account the guidance laid out in the ISPS Code


The SSP must address the following aspects:

Preventive measures against weapons, hazardous substances, devices that may be intended for use against the safety and security of the ship
Specific identification of restricted areas and preventive action against access to any such designated areas
Action to be taken when the ship is facing a security threat or breach taking into account the critical operations of the ship
Complying with instructions of the Contracting Government with respect to the security level
Evacuation procedures that might have to be carried out in case of a breach that cannot be combatted
Specific duties of the shipboard personnel with responsibilities when security is in question
Procedures for auditing security related activities
Procedures for training and drills associated with the plan
Procedures for liaising with the port facility
Procedures for reporting security related incidents
Designation and identification of the SSO and the CSO with duties and contact details
Procedures to maintain, test and calibrate equipment pertaining to the Code. This shall include details of the frequency of the tests to be carried out as well
Locations where the SSAS is provided and the guidance on using the SSAS. Usage instructions should also include details of testing of SSAS and information regarding false alerts as well

It is important to remember that the SSP is NOT subject to inspection unless in a case specifically specified by the Code. Unless there is proper evidence to prove that the SSP has not been complied with, inspection may not be allowed. Even when there is a plausible cause for non-compliance, inspection may only be carried out specifically with the aspects that violate the SSP and not an entire check on the SSP. This can only be done with consent from the Master of the vessel. The Master always has the overriding authority to call the shots, especially when the safety and security of the vessel are in question. If in the professional judgement (and experience) of the Master, there is a conflict in the operations of the ship in relation to the SSP, he may use temporary measures to upkeep the security until the conflict is resolved. Any such temporary measure must be, so far as practicable, be commensurate with the prevailing security level.


Unless implemented with diligence, the SSP will be a worthless piece of paper! The SSO must ensure that the SSP is implemented to the best possible extent to maintain its effectiveness. From carrying out training and drills to specifying to personnel about their respective duties as per the SSP, the SSO is a vital entity in the implementation of the SSP. Along with briefings and debriefings, an appraisal must also be carried out to check the level of contribution of the personnel.

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