ISM / ISPS Safety

About ISM / ISPS

What is it?

The ISPS-Code was adopted by IMO in December 2002, and included Chapter X-2 of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The ISPS Code is a comprehensive mandatory security regime for international shipping and port operations.

Who Has to Comply?

The ISPS Code applies to the following vessels and port facilities engaged in international trade:

  • Passenger ships, including high-speed passenger crafts
  • Cargo ships including high speed craft, of 500 gross tons and upwards, and Mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Port Facilities serving ships engaged in international trade, and Commercial yachts of 500 gross tons and upwards.
The Four Steps to Compliance
  1. Security Assessment and Ship Security Plan for each yacht
  2. Implement the Ship Security Plan
  3. Audit and certification
  4. Review and Improve
How can IYC help?
  1. Assess yacht to satisfy the ISPS Code
  2. Follow-up on assessment and complete the Ship Security Plan
  3. Internal Audit
  4. Introduction to the ISPS to officers and crew
  5. Your company will benefit from having a team member who will process the insight to lead your yacht towards better security management.
Steps Involved
  • Review documentation and on board procedures.
  • Determine areas of potential risk.
  • Draft a SMS Manual which include:
    • operational procedures
    • contingency plans for emergencies
    • establish a maintenance schedule and training guidelines
    • schedule onboard drills and instruction
    • organize documents and reports

International Ship & Port Facility Security Code

"Increasing awareness for your security and Safety"

As private yachts evolved into megayachts and superyachts over the past decades, it was inevitable that the growing size and complexity of the impressive yacht designs being launched transferred those vessels from mere pleasure craft into the oversight of the commercial shipping arena once they reached or exceeded 500 gross tons.

To explain clearly, let's roll back the calendar a bit. After the mid-19th century, various treaties were in place for countries with active maritime interest but it wasn't until the mid-20th century when it became practical to voice and enforce all these efforts. In the modern shipping realm, the International Maritime Organization is the United Nations' agency which governs and enforces international regulations for all shipping nations with regard to safety, commerce and environmental protection.

In 1948, the IMO's first task was to revise and consolidated all those earlier treaties, such as the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS ) convention, which was established to improve passenger and cargo safety after the collective global sympathy from the loss of the "unsinkable" Titantic. The SOLAS code has been modernized over the century and it is still in force today. The beneficial objectives target many aspects of large yacht operation including: construction standards, fire prevention and suppression, lifesaving equipment, radio communications, navigation aids, cargo regulations, safety management (ISM procedures described below), crew training (STCW described under Crew Administration) and security (ISPS program described below) .

Yacht owners needn't be schooled on these complex details, because our management staff is educated on these specialty areas: knowing that IYC management yachts subscribe to these practices is like earning a report card with "A+" grades.

With regard to pleasure yachting, three major initiatives in the past twenty years have affected the requirements need for yachts over 500 tons:

  • International Safety Management (ISM) code entered into force in the 1990s regarding construction safety requirements and operating protocols
  • Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) was enforced to ensure that crew are properly trained in safety and navigation.
  • International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) was established after September 2011 to deter piracy and terrorism threats in ports and coastal areas.

Safety Management System

ISM regulations brought positive changes to the safety of yachting, but certainly added to the physical and clerical work. Our yacht management team is well versed in the minutia of the code, and will implement a compliant program on all the vessels under our management program.

Under the ISM code, each yacht is required to have a Safety Management System (SMS) in place. The system demonstrates compliance with regulations that control safety, environmental protection and communication with land-based support.

Our yacht management team is well versed...

Specifically, to comply with ISM, we work closely with each yacht's crew to develop the operation guidelines for each individual vessel. Under our supervision, our managers

  • Review the yacht's documentation and intended operation
  • Determine areas of possible risk
  • Draft a manual which includes operational procedures and contingency emergency plans
  • Establish a maintenance schedule and training guidelines for crew
  • Schedule and instruct onboard drills
  • Organize documents and draft SMS program reports


The world changed abruptly on September 11, 2001. Anyone in the travelling public is aware and appreciative of the increased security procedures that have become a permanent way of life. In an effort to heighten security controls for port facilities and coastlines, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) established the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) to deter against potential piracy and terrorism threats.

This code provides a framework for governments, port facilities, vessels and agents to exchange information and minimize the risk of harm in the maritime arena. The system allows governments to take actions which warn yachts about identified threats and avoid harm.

Since 2002, the ISPS Code applies to commercial yachts of 500+ Gross Tons. What a positive development that has been for the safety of the yachting community! Again, like ISM procedures, this program has produced a bit more paperwork, but International Yacht Collection managers are pleased to help our yachts enjoying maritime travel with a formal security program.

Our yacht management division takes four steps to keep our vessels in compliance with the ISPS code:

  • Conduct a security assessment
  • Implement a security plan
  • Audit and achieve certification
  • Review and improve identified shortfalls

Once all the steps are in place, the yacht's compliance is confirmed by possession of an International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC). It's our manager's responsibility to make the crew aware of their adherence to the program and to keep the certificate in effect.

Global travel has been challenged with the awareness that terrorism and piracy are unpleasant possibilities at any time or port of call. Yacht owners should be relieved that security protocols are much more stringent than past decades and under constant vigilance by the maritime community.

There are continual audits to maintain compliance: we conduct periodic reviews to improve the safety, environmental and reliability of the yachts program in an effort to maintain ISM code compliance.