A team, comprising members of the International Port Security Coast Guard team to Sierra Leone, led by the International Port Security Liaison Officer, James Cepa and two others, SM Sgt Randall S. Diericks, Acting Defence Attache and LCDR, Dixon T. Whitley visited the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration on the 20th April 2022.

According to the Calabash Newspaper, the objective of the US Coast Guards’ visit to the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration was to ensure that SLMA, which is part of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), is in compliance with the International Ship and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

The team stated that threats to the Maritime transportation industry are not limited to storms, shoals and other natural perils of the sea, highlighting that the actions of terrorists, pirates, smugglers, stowaways and criminals exploiting the sea for illicit ends have demonstrated the need for the world’s flag and port States to cooperatively reduce risk. Thus the reason, “the International Maritime Organization ((IMO) and its Members States developed the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code,” she added.

Cepa also mentioned that as an internationally accepted blueprint for maritime security measures, the ISPS Code serves as a sound foundation from which countries can build their own domestic maritime security system. Through its IPS Program, he said that the U.S Coast Guard is committed to assisting those nations that have not fully implemented the ISPS Code.

He maintained that the U.S Coast Guard is also committed to further engage with other maritime stakeholders to dialogue on security issues within the Maritime industry especially those partners that are going beyond the ISPS Code through advancement in their maritime operational capabilities, such as access control, maritime situational awareness, and maritime governance. He pointed out that the efforts to reduce threats in the maritime industry require international cooperation in all flag and port nations.

Cepa and his colleagues applauded the Sierra Leone Government’s efforts in enhancing Maritime Safety and Security and Ports Security in the execution of their mandates.

SLMA Acting Executive Director, Sama Ansu Gamanga, welcomed the US Coast Guard to Sierra Leone and emphasized that their visit to the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration is commendable and hoped for better partnership in the International Port Security and safety business. He reaffirmed SLMA’s commitment to ensuring maritime safety and security in the country is been enhanced.

The Director of Maritime Safety and Security at SLMA, Ibrahim Wurie, thanked and appreciated the team for their visit to the Administration at the end of the Teams’ two-day working visit, which culminated with a pre-audit of the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.

International Port Security Liaison Officer, James Cepa, SMSgt Randall S. Diericks, Acting Defence Attache, LCDR Dixon T. Whitley, International Port Security Liaison Officer, when they were at the Maritime Administration and the Sierra Leone Port Authority, asked critical questions relating to access control, surveillance and monitoring, maritime security drills and exercises etc both for ships and port facilities as well.

During the port visit on the 21st of April 2022 and after engagement with the Ports General Manger, Dr, Abdulai Fofanah and his Deputy Yankuba Askia Bio, the SLPA Harbour Master took the responsibility of taking the US Coast Guard on a conducted tour around the port facilities starting from the East, West and the buffer zone. In order words the team visited NSTB facility and Bollore. At the port they commended the GM and his Deputy for ensuring that there is security compliance with the ISPS.

The U.S Coast Guard’s International Port Security (IPS) was established in 2003 to reinforce implementation of the ISPS Code in order to reduce risk to U.S Ports and Ships to their entire maritime transport systems.