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Pathfinder Foundation Law of the Sea Centre conducts national seminar and workshop on port security

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Senior Management of Port of Colombo with Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage Director, Law of the Sea at the Pathfinder Foundation

Centre for the Law of the Sea at the Pathfinder Foundation headed by Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage, conducted a three-day national level seminar/workshop on International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) at Mahapola Ports and Maritime Academy of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) for stakeholder participants.

The Pathfinder Foundation commenced its ‘Centre for the Law of the Sea’ (CLS) at ‘Riverpoint’, Peliyagoda first week of January this year and officially released an ‘Occasional Paper’ containing a draft Code of Conduct for the Indian Ocean. This draft Code of Conduct is open for public discussion and is accessible on the Pathfinder Foundation website: www.pathfinderfoundation.org. Admiral Prof. Colombage is a pioneer member in ISPS Code implementation in the country and certified by the IMO as a trainer in ISPS Code. He has been the main subject matter expert in conducting national level training programmes on ISPS Code and training stakeholders from SLPA Security personnel and naval personnel in maintaining ISPS Code.

The training program of ISPS Code was organised by Director of Port Security, Major General (Retd.) Gamini Hettiarachchi in liaison with Chief Training Manager of Mahapola Ports and Maritime Academy, Sarath Dayananda. Director Human Resources of SLPA, P. Ranathunga was the chief guest at the inaugural session of the seminar. 175 participants representing SLPA security, operations, planning and other divisions from the ports of Colombo, Trincomalee, Galle and Oluvil; Sri Lanka Navy, Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT), Colombo Dockyard Ltd. (CDL), Tokyo Cement, Master Divers, Colombo Port Power Barge and Ceylon Grain Elevators took part in the three-day national seminar. 

This seminar was to familiarise participants with concepts and principles of maritime security as specified in the ISPS Code. The ISPS Code came to be effective since 1 July 2004 and Sri Lankan ports led the ISPS compliance in the region at that juncture. After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, there was a renewed focus on maritime security. ‘A ship arriving in a commercial port carrying a weapon of mass destruction capable of destroying the port and adjacent population centres’ was considered a possible threat scenario and a major security concern. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) at a diplomatic conference held in London in 2002, decided to adopt a new maritime security regime called the ‘ISPS Code’. 

The main objective of the ISPS Code is ‘Prevention and Suppression of Acts of Terrorism Against Shipping’. The ISPS Code was launched as an amendment and a new chapter to the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS) Convention. The ISPS Code together with other security measures, such as Mega Port Initiative (MPI), Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Code of Conduct for security in Ports contributed immensely to safeguard the Port of Colombo, which was a high priority economic and military target of the terrorists until 2009. The ISPS Code paved the way for implementing cooperative and collaborative security measures with positive contribution from all stakeholders in ports. 

Sri Lanka Navy was instrumental in conducting risk analysis and Port Facility Security Assessments and drawing up Port Facility Security Plans for all commercial ports in the country, conducting security audits, training drills and exercises, and maintaining security as per the ISPS Code SINCE 2004. Even to-date, Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy is the designated authority and all Port Facility Security Officers (PFSO) are active duty senior naval officers, including the new port at Hambantota. Director General Merchant Shipping is nominated as the administrator as per the ISPS Code. 

The presentation of certificates at the end of the seminar was chaired by the deputy Chief Training Manager of Mahapola Ports and Maritime Academy, SH Thilakapala. 

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