Guyana is among four Caribbean countries identified for participation in the exercise in enhancing their port security.
Among those present were MARAD Director General, Mrs. Claudette Rogers; Lt. Commander, Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard, Orin Porter; Lt. Commander, United States Coast Guard, Brian Behler; Port Security Specialist Mr. Tivo M. Romero; and officials of MARAD, the Guyana Shipping Association, Government and private sector agencies, other Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard personnel, members of the Guyana Police Force and the media.
In his opening address, Lt. Commander Porter indicated that the most fundamental responsibility of government is to secure its people and protect its national security, mainly its port security.
He noted that this exercise comes at a time when we in Guyana see an increase in gold production and in trade, and it is necessary for our port facilities to be free from possible treats. He indicated that should there be a treat, it would be easily identified and eliminated.
“This, we recognise, is not an easy task, and therefore the consolidation of our efforts and resources can only result in us ensuring a safe operational space from which we will all benefit.
“The synergy of this exercise of all stakeholders will be necessary to achieve our aim, and the input of the visiting US Coast Guard team will be to work with us not only from time to time in this exercise, but to share in this process; and also to sign onto the national maritime organisation’s requirement, and highlight possible areas of development for us to continue developing”, he said.
“The US Coast Guard would be with us throughout this exercise, as we will be able to achieve the goals,” he added.
Director General of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), Mrs. Claudette Rogers, in her address, welcomed those present and confessed her enthusiasm to participate in this two-day exercise. She noted that MARAD is pleased to collaborate with the US Coast Guard in bringing out this important table top exercise on the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code.
“We have always held the view that training is an indispensable component and process of maritime development, and it is fitting that the US Coast Guard can imitate these activities”, she disclosed.
Ms Rogers indicated that everyone is aware that maritime security gained prominence after the terrorist act of 9-11 on the United States of America.
This action prompted the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to amend the convention so as to cater for the improvement of maritime security globally, which led to the intervention of the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code.
The ISPS code has two parts. Part A is mandatory, and provides detailed related security requirements for contracting governments, port authorities and shipping agencies; while part B sets out the recommended guidelines directing towards meeting the requirements in part A.
In May 2004, Guyana passed a registration to implement the ISPS code, in keeping with the general plan.
She explained that it was quite obvious in 2004 that every port in Georgetown and in Guyana was galvanized into high security awareness, taking every step to improve security to minimize any terrorist attempt at their facility.
At the end of July 2004, the ISPS code was at its mandatory implementory stage worldwide. MARAD, as the designated authority, had at that time certified thirty-seven facilities and twenty ships under the Golden Arrowhead; and, to date, there are thirty-two facilities and seventeen ships certified to date.
The US Coast Guard made several visits, and inspected facilities and conducted training and other logistical support in Guyana’s implementation process. All facilities approved by MARAD were up to security level one -- each port facility has been inspected to meet the requirement of the ISPS.
The area of maritime security continues to be a threat and major concern in Guyana since the increasing trends of traditional piracy and arm robberies committed on ships, fishing and other vessels in Guyana’s economic zone and the internal waters.
In an effort to formulate a national response and to share experiences and practices of the Caribbean, the quest to fight against the scourge of piracy and armed robberies, representatives of MARAD and the GDF Coast Guard, with the aid of the US Coast Guard, stated that it is important that all stakeholders in Guyana to support the IMO in the implementation of the ISPS code.
Ms Rogers explained that the definition of piracy is the hijacking of ships and other fishing and cargo vessels on the high seas. Guyana is a signatory to the International Convention for the safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); and, as such, required its ships and port facilities to comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, based on bilateral discussions.
The Government of Guyana provided guidance for implementing the ISPS Code through the Guyana Shipping (Ship and Port Facility Security) Regulations 2004, set forth under the Guyana Shipping Act. The regulations are entirely based on part A of the ISPS Code, and state that when any reference is made to Part ‘A’ of the ISPS Code; the guidance of part ‘B’ of the Code in relation to that matter should be taken into consideration.
A copy of the Guyana Shipping (Ship and Port Facility Security) Regulations 2004 was provided to all ships required to comply with the ISPS Code via the Official Gazette (Legal Supplement-B) dated May 8, 2004.
Part ‘A’ of the ISPS Code Contains mandatory requirements regarding the provisions of Chapter XI-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) 1974, as amended.
Part ‘B’ of the ISPS Code contains guidance that should be taken into account when implementing security provisions of SOLAS 74 and part ‘A’ of the ISPS Code.
The Maritime Administration Department is the designated authority in Guyana responsible for implementing and enforcing the requirements of the ISPS Code for both port facilities and ships. MARAD is a department within the Ministry of Public Works and Communications.
MARAD appointed personnel to conduct oversight of the ships and facilities, to ensure implementation of the ISPS Code.
It also indentified Guyanese flagged ships and port facilities that are required to comply with the ISPS Code. The key requirements imposed on ships are that they must conduct ship security assessments to indentify vulnerabilities, and provide security plans that outline measures to protect those vulnerabilities.
The key requirements that MARAD imposed on port facilities include the development of facility security assessments and security plans that address the following areas: access control measures for the facility, as well as restricted areas within the facility, parameter fencing, patrols, and methods to communicate security level changes.
MARAD communicated its country guidance regarding the ISPS Code to port facilities through an awareness campaign involving multiple personal visits to each facility, and a training course for government agencies, Port Facility Security Officers (PFSO) and Ship Security Officers (SSO).
On June 13, 2009, the PFSO formed the Port Facility Security Officers Association (PFSOA) to work individually and collectively to help improve the Maritime Sector in Guyana.