What Are The Security Levels Under ISPS Code?

The security levels under the ISPS code describe the current scenario related to the security threat to the country and its coastal region including the ships visiting that country. The security levels are decided by the co-operation of ship and port authority keeping the current condition of national and international security. The local government sets the security level and ensures to inform port state and ships prior to entering the port, or when berthed in the port.


All personnel on board ships and port state staffs are assigned with security duties, which are different for people of different levels. Moreover, frequent security drills are also carried out on board ships.

As soon as the security level has been decided as per the ISPS code, it is displayed prominently on board vessel at the entrance of the ship.

There are total three security levels under ISPS code:

LEVEL 1 – Normal Level

  • In normal level, both ships and port operations are carried out in general way.
  • Minimum security measures are always maintained on board and in port.
  • Ship and port operation are carried out as per ship and port facility security plan.
  • Port facility ensures to keep the ‘no access’ areas under surveillance at all times.
  • Ship and port authority mutually supervise loading and unloading operation of cargo and stores, ensuring access control and other minimum security criteria.
  • Minimum access in the ship is maintained at all times.

LEVEL 2- Heightened Risk

  • In level 2, the threat to the security is higher than the normal level.
  • All the routine and cargo operations are carried out with an increase in security measures in both ships and ports.
  • Look-outs in no access zone and waterside area is to be increased  by port and ship authorities.
  • Access control is maintained all the time with escorting the visitors and use of security equipments like metal detector etc.
  • Communication between port authority and ship administration is always maintained in case of increase in security level.
  • Preparing a full or partial search operation of ship.
  • A declaration of security is undertaken between port state and ship administration.

LEVEL 3 – Imminent danger

  • Level 3 is imposed when the probability of security threat to ship or port authorities are highest or imminent and specific protective measures are to be maintained.
  • In level 3 all ship and port operations are stopped and frequent security rounds and duties are carried out by both ship staff and port authorities. Boat petrol are done by port state on the water side.
  • Main propulsion plant is always kept ready for moving the ship out of port if require.
  • No personal is allowed to access the ship without the authorization of port state official.
  • Only one access point is maintained on board at all time.
  • Preparing a full search operation of ship or under water hull search operation with port facility.
  • Preparation for evacuation of ship by its staff.
  • A declaration of security is undertaken between port state and ships administration.


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