The requirement for a ship security alert system on board vessels subject to the ISPS Code was introduced in 2004 and has been in force for nearly 20 years. For ships flying the Norwegian flag, the SSAS will be programmed to transmit alerts to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) of Southern Norway when activated in the event of a piracy attack or a related incident.

Pursuant to the ISPS Code, drills testing individual elements of the ship security plan should be conducted at least once every three months. More comprehensive exercises should be carried out annually. On many ships, the SSAS is tested involving the JRCC when conducting drills and exercises. This means that the JRCC has spent a lot of time and resources on managing functional testing of ship security alert systems.

Less frequent involvement of the JRCC

Both the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre and the NMA believe it is a good thing that ship security and testing of the ship security alert systems are taken seriously by the companies. Nevertheless, it is our opinion that the purpose of pure functional testing can be achieved even though the number of tests involving the JRCC is reduced.

In order to ensure appropriate testing procedures for the SSAS and more efficient use of critical resources at the JRCC, the industry is now instructed to involve the JRCC only in functional testing carried out in connection with certificate surveys. This means that the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre will only be involved every 2.5 years after a full-term certificate has been issued.

  • Functional testing involving the JRCC of Southern Norway will only be conducted at certificate surveys.
  • Companies planning to perform a more comprehensive exercise need to coordinate with the JRCC in advance if they want to involve them.
  • Functional testing of the ship security alert system must still take place at least every six months. Such testing should only involve the company security officer (CSO) and/or the company’s designated emergency response organisation.

Actual security alerts not affected

The JRCC and the NMA specify that the changed test procedures will not affect actual security alerts. It is important that procedures in the ship security plan are updated in accordance with these instructions, and that all tests, exercises and drills are documented on board.