As of July 1, 2006 All ISPS Code Applicable Vessels Required to Have a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) Installed on Board

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As of July 1, 2006 all ISPS Code applicable vessels are required to have Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) on board and installed, with the success or failure of the effort yet to be known. With the final deadline having just passed, one might expect a flurry of legislative and legal activity to erupt soon.

As of July 1, 2006 all ISPS Code applicable vessels are required to have a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) on board and installed, with the success or failure of the effort yet to be known. With the final deadline having just passed, one might expect a flurry of legislative and legal activity to erupt soon.

An SSAS is essentially a silent alarm used to indicate vessel in trouble from a threat or compromise to security. The system gets activated by pushing a concealed button (in one of two locations) on the vessel which transmits a signal via satellite to a land-based communication service provider (CSP). The minimum information that is to be transmitted must include the vessel identification, position, date and time. These systems can be set up to send alerts by email, fax, and Short Message Service (SMS) text message by cell phone, or a combination of transmission methods. The method of transmission is not detailed in the regulations. Similar to the implementation of the ISPS Code, SSAS is not optional, it is required under SOLAS Chapter XI-2 regulation 6.

“We here at Maritime Protective Services, Inc. (MPS) believe that there are a couple aspects to SSAS that might make some companies want to sit up and pay attention,” says George Playton, COO of MPS.

International standards require that a competent or designated authority (usually the CSO) be responsible for monitoring all vessels under his charge, and that SSAS monitoring be “active” 24/7. Many companies would prefer to take advantage of the option (within the regulations) that gives them the opportunity to contract with an approved monitoring organization. And that’s where MPS through its sister company, Asset Tracking Logistics And Security (ATLAS), comes into the picture, serving as a first point of contact and the instrument for verification, in the event of an alert.

In the event of a SSAS alert, the US Coast Guard (USCG) now demands that contact with them must be made within five minutes. In the case of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the time is more forgiving at 15 minutes, but even that’s not very long. With these strict time frames and the rigors of 24/7 active SSAS monitoring, the USCG appears to favor utilizing the expertise of a dedicated security resource organization like MPS, rather than companies risk taking on the burden alone.

Automated systems can only contact pre-set destinations or numbers without any verification or receipt. What if an ‘incident’ takes place outside of normal business hours, or the Company Security Officer is on vacation, has the phone off, and can’t be found? Incidents’ have a habit of showing up when they’re least expected –experience teaches us they will – and every one of them has to be treated as ‘real’ -- until a pre-established verification procedure proves otherwise.

John Bennett, CEO of MPS/ATLAS stated, “We offset all this by providing live monitoring in a secure, self-sustainable facility, manned by ISPS Code-trained security professionals around the clock, ensuring that both client and relevant authority are notified, in the event of an alert.”

The SSAS regulations dictate that all system equipment must meet standardized criteria, set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). SSAS equipment is made by various companies, and finding out if the one you have is compliant can be more than just time consuming. Another important aspect, easily over looked, is the SSAS Annex that needs to be written and inserted into each vessel’s Security Plan, describing the procedures, features and system details. SSAS Annexes are a mandatory requirement of the US Coast Guard’s NVIC No. 04 03, Change 1, and the maritime industry’s need for companies qualified to write Annexes and assist throughout the approval process, like MPS, will only increase as time goes on.

Bennett went on to add that, “Another deadline has come and gone and we here at MPS/ATLAS are convinced that there will be companies whose time has run out, leaving them in breach of SOLAS regulations and placing people, assets and resources at risk. Everyone accepts that there are some hazards in the shipping industry that are unavoidable; however, those that happen simply because a company doesn’t bother to get professional security advice or to fix poor security procedures… well, that’s simply inexcusable. So, take a minute, think about it… and then, seriously consider calling MPS to discuss your situation with one of our Maritime Security Specialists. It could be the most important call you’ll make today.”


1052 S. Powerline Rd.

Deerfield Beach, Fl. 33442    


AEGIS is positioned to be a key player in the Defense, Logistics and Security markets worldwide. AEGIS, through its wholly owned subsidiaries Asset Tracking Logistics And Security (ATLAS) and Maritime Protective Services, Inc. (MPS), provides Security Assessments, Risk Analysis, and Advanced Security Solutions to maritime, government and commercial markets on a global basis. The Company’s services are available for a broad base of clients to protect their most important assets around the world. The Company offers all clients a wide range of innovative security solutions combining cost effectiveness and ease of integration. AEGIS has positioned itself resourcefully in the expanding threat mitigation, crisis management and governmental compliance arenas and has begun establishing itself as a leading provider of anti-terrorism, threat analysis services and security solutions to a number of international organizations.

To learn more about AEGIS, ATLAS and MPS, their technology, systems, services and offerings, contact them directly by calling: U.S. 1-954-428-6880 or U.K. +44(0)1202 684686.


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Robert Sewak
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