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When must a Superyacht be ISPS Code compliant?

To answer this question, you must understand if the Superyacht is considered as a passenger vessel (which is nothing to do with size or gross tonnage).

If there is more than 12 passengers onboard (not including crew), paying or not, on charter, if the vessel is over 500GT. Then vessel must be International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliant at all times and the crew must possess the relevant approved security training.

Most Superyachts are classed in accordance with the MCA’s Large Yacht Code (whether UK flag or not), so almost all stay under 12 passengers so they don’t become “passenger vessels” (ISPS has a more regulations to comply with) so technically most Superyachts are classed as “cargo vessels”.

The main consideration is whether or not the vessel is being chartered or being used privately by the owner. If under charter you must comply with the ISPS code.

It can raise an issue for Superyachts as sometimes they switch between “private” and “charter”. This can cause Port State inspection problems – is ISPS Code currently in effect right now? It may have been last month & it may be next month but this month the owner is on board so no, it isn’t.

So, is Superyacht owners and their CSO’s informing the Security Liaison Officer at the relevant Flag State about the changes?

Another problem is, that they may be commercial for six months, then private for the following six thereafter. If during the private period, they don’t maintain their security regime, then the certificate will lapse.

The easiest way to obtain a new certificate is to change management companies, which is often done on a regular basis. This means they remain constantly on Interim certification. 

Article by S. Kaye, Skills 4 Security & Training Limited

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