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January 12, 2004

U.K. sets Jan. 31 ISPS filing deadline

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is emphasizing that the United Kingdom "fully supports" the July 1, 2004 deadline for the full implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

It says it has the staff and processes in place to meet the demands of commercial shipping companies for ISPS Code compliance.

"All commercial, non passenger shipping, companies have been directly advised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the requirements for compliance with the ISPS Code," says the agency. "As an extension of MCA's customer service philosophy they have been assigned a named liaison officer to handle their ship security issues. These liaison officers are happy to offer advice on compliance issues."

MCA has set a deadline of January 31 for the submission of non-passenger ship security plans. This, says the agency, is necessary to ensure that sufficient time exists not only for approval of the plan, but also for the plan to be effectively implemented on the ship before a verification audit takes place and the International Ship Security Certificates (ISSC) issued. The effect of not having an ISSC after July 1,"will be to seriously hamper the trading ability of any ship."

Since January 1, the MCA's Port State Control Officers have, in common with other Paris MOU authorities, been asking ships' masters whether a valid ISSC is aboard. Those ships unable to produce an ISSC are issued with a letter of warning advising that the ISPS Code will be enforced from its implementation date and the likely consequences of not having a valid ISSC aboard and not operating an effective security system.

Phil White MCA's Head of Maritime Security said:"We are aware from our discussions with shipping companies that significant progress is being made towards preparing and submitting ship security plans. Before the Christmas break the submission of ship security plans was slower than expected. I am pleased with the increased pace of plan submission since the New Year and look forward to receiving the remaining plans before our deadline. I would urge any shipping company that anticipates problems with our submission deadline to contact us to discuss the issue."

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