What is a Port Facility Security Officer?

The ISPS Code was implemented by the IMO on July 1st 2004 as a comprehensive set of guidelines for international maritime security by assigning responsibilities to government authority, port authority, shipping companies and seafarers. The code applies to ships on international voyages including passenger ships and cargo ships of 500 GT and above and the port facilities serving them.

Those ports that come under the jurisdiction of the ISPS Code are required to have an appointed Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) and a Port Facility Security Plan (PFSP).

The Port Facility Security Plan is a restricted document that is specific to the port for which it was written. Amongst other things, it defines the various security roles and responsibilities, outlines action to be taken in the event of a security breach and outlines the plans and actions to be taken at the three different security levels.

For example, the Port Facility Security Plan details the operational and physical security measures the port facility will take to ensure that it always operates at a minimum of Security Level 1 and outlines the extended measures to operate at Security Levels 2 and 3.

Additionally, the Port Facility Security Assessment is an essential and integral part of the process required to develop and update the Port Facility Security Plan.

The Port Facility Security Officer must ensure that the port and all visitors to the port are adequately protected from threats that may arise from both land and sea. All visiting vessels particularly those arriving from international voyages should be scrutinised for any security risk.

The port facility dictates the security levels to be implemented on the ships which are operating within its territorial waters. The PFSO has a number of responsibilities but is ultimately responsible for the development and maintenance of the Port Facility Security Plan and the day-to-day security operations of the port.

It is a prerequisite that the PFSO has attended and passed a Port Facility Security Officer course. Prior to approval, the content of the course is assessed by the contracting government and is conducted over a three day period. The course covers everything that the PFSO is required to know prior to taking on the role of Port Facility Security Officer, this includes:

  • Understanding of the ISPS Code
  • Security risks, threats and vulnerability assessments
  • Developing, maintaining and supervising the implementation of a Port Facility Security Plan
  • Understanding the interface between ports and ships
  • Principles of security including access control, screening measures and security responsibilities of security personnel
  • Audit verification, security documentation and records
  • Testing, maintenance and calibration of security equipment
  • Encouraging security awareness and vigilance
  • Identification of weapons and improvised explosive devices
  • Conducting security training, drills and exercises

Intrepid Risk Management has delivered Port Facility Security Officer training around the world. Our services extend beyond the delivery of the PFSO course and we continue to provide free consultation to those individuals who have attended our courses.