Security Training for Seafarers with Designated Security Duties (STSDSD)

Course Topics

  • Introduction
  • Course overview
  • Competences to be achieved
  • Current security threats and patterns
  • Ship and port operations and conditions
  • Maritime Security Policy
  • Familiarity with relevant international conventions
  • Familiarity with relevant government legislation
  • Definitions
  • Handling sensitive security-related information
  • Security Responsibilities
  • Contracting governments
  • Recognized Security Organizations
  • The company
  • The Ship
  • The port facility
  • Ship Security Officer
  • Company Security Officer
  • Port Facility Security Officer
  • Ship Security Assessment
  • Assessment tools
  • On-scene security surveys
  • Physical security aboard ships
  • Use of communication systems
  • Security Equipment and Systems
  • Threat Identification, Recognition, and Response
  • Various types of weapons
  • Methods of physical searches
  • Execution and coordination of searches
  • Recognition of persons posing potential security risks
  • Techniques used to circumvent security measures
  • Crowd management and control techniques
  • Ship Security Actions
  • Actions required by different security levels
  • Reporting requirements for ships
  • Declaration of Security
  • Reporting security incidents
  • Execution of security procedures
  • Convoy Escorts
  • Emergency Preparedness, Drills, and Exercises
  • Execution of contingency plans
  • Security drills and exercises
  • Use of Citadel
  • Security Administration
  • Documentation and Records
  • Anti-Piracy
  • Piracy Awareness
  • Anti-piracy measures
  • Communication with the flag state, coastal authority and task force
  • Pirates Business Model
  • Pirate Attack
  • Implications of a piracy attack
  • Coping in a Hostage Situation
  • The Release Process
  • Seafarers' Family



Security for Seafarers came into focus because of three factors:

  1. The impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (notably the launch of counter-terrorist operations at sea), 
  2. The occurrence of three high visibility terrorist acts against ships (USS Cole in 2001, French tanker Limburg in 2002 and Filipino passenger ship Super Ferry 14 in 2004), and
  3. The rise of piratical attacks in the Strait of Malacca at the beginning of the century.

Following that, the surge of piracy at the Horn of Africa between 2007 and 2012 largely contributed to generating debates on the legal, criminal, cultural, economic, military, environmental and energy dimensions of piracy in particular and maritime security in general. The maritime security geo-strategies in 2014 demonstrate that states’ and international institutions’ maritime security objectives and interests are indirectly and directly influenced by geographical and geopolitical considerations. The expression ‘maritime security’ is recent. Since the end of the 1990's and the beginning of the 2000's, maritime security was increasingly used to describe preventive measures set up to respond to illegal activities at sea or from the sea (including the protection of shipping and ports). 


Terrorism (post 9/11) and piracy (especially after 2007 and the rise of attacks at the Horn of Africa) attracted most of the media’s attention. However, arms and drug trafficking, people smuggling, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and deliberate pollution still represent the bulk of illegal and disruptive activities at sea. 


The maritime domain is a space within which human actors operate, either to perform illegal, disruptive and damaging activities or to police and secure the sea in order to fight criminal actors. Maritime security refers to a geographical space, that is to say the sea, which has different characteristics compared to the land. States’ maritime security interests result in a practice consisting in projecting security beyond their external boundary into the global maritime domain. Thus, zones of interests are defined, which extend beyond one’s legal zone. In security narratives, those maritime zones are represented as vital for one’s security, which justifies power projection activities.


The need to enhance maritime security came with the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia between 2008 and 2011. The dangers of piracy for international trade brought the maritime dimension of security to the global consciousness and lifted it high on policy agendas. Moreover, the inter-state tensions in regions, such as the Arctic, the South China Sea, or the East China Sea and the significant investments in blue water navies of emerging powers, such as India and China, have increased attention for the oceans as a security space. 


Safety concerns are core to maritime security given that it may involve environmental and cultural interests. Marine safety has also been increasingly linked to maritime security given that the maritime industry, shipping companies and their employees are simultaneously potential targets (e.g. of pirates, terrorists, or criminals) as well as potential perpetrators (by engaging in maritime crimes such as trafficking of persons, illicit goods or weapons or in collaborating with violent actors). 


Maritime security is also linked to economic development. Throughout history the oceans were always of vital economic importance. The majority of trade is conducted via the sea . Both global shipping and fisheries have developed into multi-billion industries. The commercial value of the oceans has moreover been increasingly re-evaluated due to the economic potential of offshore resources, centrally fossil energy but also seabed mining, as well as the economic promises of coastal tourism. The concept of blue economy is linked to maritime security since sustainable management strategies not only require the enforcement and monitoring of laws and regulations, but a secure maritime environment provides the precondition for managing marine resources.  


The major concern and scope for this course is limited to marine safety, under the regime of the IMO that oversees the interest of the shipping industry and  the individual interests of the seafarer.


For almost two decades, maritime security has largely been framed by the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which focuses on detecting and preventing security threats against ports and ships. But due to increasing concern for the safe and secure movement of cargo, as well as the maturity of the implementation of the ISPS Code over the last 15 years, maritime security has begun to focus on treating ports and ships as conduits within the supply chain—not just targets.


This shift from port and vessel security to broader cargo and supply chain security is driven by the evolution of both global trade and threats to the supply chain—issues that the ISPS Code does not adequately address. While the code has well-established security requirements for ports and ships, it views these assets as targets of nefarious activities—specifically terrorism—and not as broader conduits of illicit activity or movement of contraband or theft of cargo.


As global trade continues to increase at a rapid rate, there is more cargo in the system, as well as an increasing reliance on just-in-time delivery, which makes cargo and supply chain security more sensitive to disruption, with greater potential impacts. The movement of cargo is also increasingly dependent on electronic data streams, which increase the risks of converged cyber, physical, and operational security challenges. Maritime security is no longer just about protecting vessels and ports—it goes hand-in-hand with cargo and supply chain security. Updated codes, regulations, and best practices should reflect this evolution of the industry. This shift should emphasize a broader focus on maritime security as an integrated system of physical assets, cargo, and data that needs to be secure and resilient, rather than simply a collection of ports and ships that need to be protected.