Bangalore: Less than two weeks before the Mumbai terror attacks, India’s maritime regulator, the directorate general of shipping, had asked all mobile offshore drilling units operating in the Indian exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which aims to reduce vulnerability of ships and port facilities.
The code, mandated by global maritime regulator, the International Maritime Organization, came into effect in July 2004, but most of the 58 mobile offshore drilling units operating in the Indian EEZ do not abide by it as implementing additional security measures raises their costs and, in some cases, results in a loss of revenues.
India’s EEZ, which extends to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores, gives the country exclusive rights for exploration and use of marine resources in the area.
Also See Maritime Code (Graphic)
“It has been observed that some mobile offshore drilling units registered under the Indian flag (or registered in India) or calling in Indian ports or offshore areas are yet to comply with the provisions of the ISPS Code,” said a 14 November circular from R.K. Awasthi, deputy director general of shipping.
In fact, some of them even sought exemption from conforming to the international code. “Owners/operators/managers of such units are approaching the directorate seeking exemption from the implementation of the ISPS Code on board these units,” the circular added.
The circular said foreign mobile offshore drilling units operating in the Indian EEZ would also have to comply.
The maritime regulator refused to disclose names of those seeking exemption. Mint could not independently verify the names of these owners/operators.
Some operators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the huge costs involved in implementing the security measures made them seek an exemption. Moreover, drilling units, they said, are hired out on a day rate, and implementing the global shipping safety code would require them to be taken offline for as long as it takes to have security systems and personnel in place, resulting in significant revenue loss to the operator.
The ISPS code prescribes responsibilities for governments, shipping companies, ship personnel, and port/facility personnel to detect security threats and take preventive steps.
The code was developed in response to perceived threats to ships and ports following the 11 September 2001 terror attacks in the US.
It also covers passenger ships, including high-speed passenger craft, cargo ships including high-speed vessels of 500 gross tonnage (total internal cubic capacity of a ship) and above, and port facilities serving such ships that undertake international voyages.
Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint