Based on lessons learned from best management practices and risk mitigation measures, the paper recommends six layers that will improve a vessel's security. Despite the fact that the report focuses on ships that are underway, it also examines measures for ships at anchor and alongside. The six defence layers are the following:

1. Risk assessment

A proper risk assessment should consider the following:

  • Whether new risks are identified and current risks are confirmed or removed;
  • Whether it is practical and realistic;
  • Whether the adopted self protection measures reduce the identified risks.


Furthermore, the risk assessment should be updates frequently to include new protection measures, while a Vessel Hardening Plan should be established as well. Vessel Hardening is the physical measures taken to improve a vessel's security.

2. Threat detection

There are two kinds of threats: physicals and virtuals. Physical threats come from the air, land or sea and can be identified more easily than virtuals. Virtual threats can be cyber attacks which damage the ship's operating systems. In order to prevent both threats from happening, consider the following:

  • Monitoring and reporting: Vessels should regularly report their positions and have an independent fleet tracking system;
  • Radar: Place radars in such a way to eliminate blind spots in the ship;
  • AIS: AIS should give all around coverage;
  • Lighting: Lights should be places in places which offer all round visibility;
  • Closed circuit television (CCTV): CCTV can offer all round visibility;
  • Motions sensors: Motion sensors can warn the crew of an attempted boarding;
  • Mirrors: Carefully place mirrors to enhance safety.

3. First layer of defence

One of the most important things is the control of access to the vessel. In order to have a better control of access, the ISPS Code should be followed, and it must be based on the ship's structure. Security measures should not obstruct the crew from abandoning the ship or carry out other emergencies.

4. Second layer of defence

If for any reason, intruders breach the first layer of defence, the second layer should include the following in order to prevent intruders from reaching further into the ship:

  • Secondary doors: Secondary doors should be placed outside or inside access points to the accommodation block and engine room;
  • Monitoring: Monitoring system with alarms must be placed on all doors or hatces;
  • Door and door jambs: Doors and door frames should be hardened and extra locks should be fitted;
  • Windows: Fit windows with deadlights or blank covers;
  • High strength glue: New bonding material which can withstand 1.5 tonnes of pull is available and can be attached to any surface inside the vessel's superstructure;
  • Staircases, hatches, vents, ladders: Fit hinged plates in these to obstruct entrance;
  • Piperwork: Fit spikes and angled baffle plates to obstruct entrance.

5. Third layer of defence

If intruders breach the second layer as well, OCIMF recommends the following measures:

  • Smoke cannon, strobe lights, noise makers: These can be fitter in compartments and alleyways to  fro distraction;
  • Lift shafts: Stop and isolate the lift car;
  • Citadels: Crew must be able to get to a citadel safely and quickly and this needs to be an important part of companies' training plans.

6. Vessel control and safety

Once intruders get on board, restriction of the ship's functions is important:

  • Control of services: A general black-out is ideal  for disorientation;
  • Security of fixed fire suppression systems: Protect the remote activation of these systems;
  • Navigation and engine control from the citadel: A duplicate navigation system can be installed in the citadel, in order for the crew to keep control of the ship.

Credit: OCIMF

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