Indonesia Port Security: International Standards for Success

by Scott M. Bernat, a civilian Special Agent of the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), currently assigned to the US Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia.

Indonesia, rich in natural and man-made resources, is dependent on its port and maritime industry to advance its economic interests and attract business development. The safety and security of Indonesia’s ports and maritime infrastructure remains paramount to achieving success as a leader in world trade. Destination countries need to be assured that maritime assets and associated cargo from Indonesia have been subjected to the highest security standards possible. Indonesia expects no less a commitment to security from countries involved in exporting goods and products there. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquartered in London, England sets the standard for improving and maintaining the safety and security of international shipping and associated facilities. Worldwide adherence to IMO standards ensures mutual safety and security standards are met, increases confidence in commer-cial trade and promotes business opportunity and growth.

The criminal and terrorist threat to ports and the maritime supply chain remains a global constant and is routinely highlighted in the media. Corruption serves to fuel the fire and raises serious questions regarding the overall integrity of even the best security plan. Piracy, in its current form is arguably nothing more than criminal activity, spurring the public imagination and ultimately interfering with the free flow and confidence of maritime trade. In many locations throughout the world, poverty and/or greed drives some company and facility insiders to link with outside criminal elements to further breakdown security efforts. Routine reports of container break-ins, as well as the theft of whole containers, continue to highlight the justification behind the adoption, implementation and maintenance of internation-ally recognized security standards. A cost effective security program begins with a clear understanding of the threat faced and the application of tailored and focused security practices and procedures.


Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the IMO promulgated a set of standards and procedures to address and promote the global need for port and maritime security. These standards, known as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, were specifically designed, based on existing local threat conditions and environment, to enhance security practices and procedures for and between ships and port facilities involved in international trade. These include the routine conduct of ship and port security exercises and the partnering of private and government entities to ensure the sharing of threat information and security best practices. The ISPS Code utilizes sound risk management concepts to effectively address and mitigate potential threats to ships and ports, thereby protecting against potential criminal and terrorist threats. A ship or port facility adhering to the ISPS Code highlights a commitment to security excellence and is often awarded preferred treatment by the international community. Preferential action includes decreased port entry/exit delays for both ships and cargo.

ISO 28000
An integral part of maritime trade confidence is the establishment, application and management of effective supply chain security procedures. In 2007, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published a series of supply chain security management standards. These standards, known collectively as ISO 28000, establish security best practices and procedures to protect against potential threats to the safety and security of the supply transportation and logistics system. Ships and port facilities are essential components of the international supply chain and their successful operations remain dependent on sound supply chain practices.


Resources are available to assist countries, companies and facilities with a vested interest and/or involved in interna-tional maritime trade, to develop, establish and maintain an effective security program. These include both private companies involved in fee-based ISPS Code and ISO 28000 standards training, as well as governmental organizations that provide similar services at no cost, dependent on eligibility. The US Coast Guard (USCG) International Port Security Program focuses on worldwide maritime trading nations and the implementation of the ISPS Code. The USCG International Training Division offers port safety and security training, often partnering with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Organization of Ameri-can States (OAS) to provide port security subject matter experts familiar with the various port operating environ-ments. The US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), through its Security Training, Assistance and Assessment Teams (STAAT), also provides port and facility security training, primarily focusing on locations and facilities frequented by and/or contracted with the US Navy.

Indonesia’s maritime trade and economic growth depend heavily on its ability to secure and protect the supply chain and associated ship and port facilities. The fast-paced maritime commercial shipping industry, focused on the import and export of in-demand commodities, requires high confidence in the safety and security of its operations. The uninterrupted ability of a ship to deliver and a port to clear and account for discharged cargo is critical to this success and remains reliant on the successful implementation of ISPS Code and ISO 28000 standards.

IMO / ISPS Code Information | Website: http://www.imo.org
ISO 28000 Information | Website: http://www.iso.org
USCG International Port Security Program: The Maritime Security Help Desk | Website: http://homeport.uscg.mil | Navigate to the IPS Program Tab
US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) | Website: http://www.ncis.navy.mil
British Ship photo - AMCHAM at: www.belgian-navy.be

Scott M. Bernat is a civilian Special Agent of the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), currently assigned to the US Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia Force Protection Detachment as the Resident Agent in Charge and Chief of US Military Security. During his 22 year career, he has worked as a security professional throughout Asia, Australia/Oceania, Central America, Europe, Middle East and the United States. He is a recognized expert in Maritime and Port Security.