Protecting maritime transport and seaports against terrorism

Governments worldwide have taken measures to better protect ports and maritime transport against terrorism. This began after the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the US.

Port and maritime security levels

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code is aimed at detecting terrorism threats and preventing acts of terrorism at ports and on the sea. The ISPS Code defines 3 security levels:

  • Level 1
    Normal: this is the level of threat at which port facilities and ships normally operate; minimum appropriate protective security measures must be maintained at all times.
  • Level 2
    Heightened Risk: appropriate additional protective security measures must be maintained for a period of time as a result of the heightened risk of a security incident.
  • Level 3
    Incident Imminent: further specific protective security measures must be maintained for a period of time when a security incident is probable or imminent. For instance, access may be restricted and stringent controls may apply to persons and goods.

Furthermore, the ISPS Code also stipulates that port authorities and ships must have an approved security plan in place. In addition, a security officer must also be present on ships and at terminals.

The European Union adopted and supplemented the IASP Code in Regulation (EC) No. 2004/725.

The Dutch government has incorporated these international and European security requirements into:

  • Schepenbesluit 2004 (Shipping Decree);
  • Havenbeveiligingswet (Port Security Act);
  • Several ministerial regulations.

Combating piracy

In recent years, maritime transport all over the world has suffered considerably from the threats and acts of piracy. Incidents have occurred in, for example, Southeast Asia, the Niger Delta and off the coast of Somalia.

The government is collaborating with other seafaring countries and the maritime sector to combat piracy. The cabinet decided that in 2015 the Dutch navy would participate in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia. These operations were aimed at protecting humanitarian transports and merchant shipping.

In 2010, the Netherlands became party to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Anti-Piracy in Asia (ReCAAP). The aim of this regional agreement is to combat piracy through increased information sharing and cooperation between the signatories. The Netherlands is an active participant in the agreement.