Classification societies are introducing remote inspection and learning technologies to minimise contact during the coronavirus pandemic
RINA has gained flag approval and secured its first shipping company for remote inspections, while ABS has introduced e-learning programs to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19.
These developments are being accelerated as governments worldwide constrain people’s movements to limit the spread of this deadly coronavirus strain.
Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry has approved RINA’s remote technology for inspections of Liberia-flagged vessels. This decision could shortly be followed by other flag administrations.
Shipowner d’Amico will trial this technology in a pilot remote inspection on its fleet. Drones will provide images and measurements to surveyors working remotely from the inspection and site.
RINA started trialling remote inspections as part of its broader digitalisation initiative in May 2019. From then to February 2020 it completed around 300 remote inspections.
Demand has accelerated for these services, with 60 inspections predicted this month (March 2020).
RINA Services chief executive Nello Sulfaro said a range of remote inspection devices could become more common in the future, replacing or assisting the attendance of surveyors.
“In addition to remote inspections techniques, such as drones and remotely operated vehicles, we provide a sophisticated portable headset with camera complete with head-up display and a new smartphone app,” Mr Sulfaro explained.
“Once this app is downloaded, RINA’s surveyors can take control of the phone to inspect the vessel with an appointed crew member on board,” he continued.
“Our app can also be used by a surveyor attending a ship to get technical support from other RINA specialists ashore.”
Fleet director at d’Amico and honorary consul of the Republic of Liberia, Salvatore d’Amico, expects more shipping companies to adopt remote inspection technologies to safeguard crew and shore personnel.
“Shipowners and all operators in the sector are now facing an unprecedented challenge that can only be won by staying united and finding together technologically advanced solutions to protect human life and to ensure the continuity of operations efficiently,” said Mr d’Amico.
“For many years now, the d’Amico Group has been collaborating with RINA to apply technology to the shipping industry, which, at this time more than ever, proves to be essential in inspecting ships remotely when surveyors cannot go on board.”
d’Amico Group is a leading Italian family-run shipping company operating fleets of dry cargo and product tankers worldwide.
Shipping companies will also benefit from ABS’ e-learning platform for remote training while personnel movement is limited by Covid-19’s global spread.
This new training resource includes on-demand courses to augment classroom training in the areas of cyber security, risk management, asset reliability, compliance management and process safety.
Subject matter experts shared technical and regulatory knowledge for training in these subjects.
Subjects will be rolled out in stages. In the first phase, ABS’ e-courses focus on cyber security as an operational imperative, including in business and maritime operations.
Additional e-courses will focus on reliability management and reliability centered maintenance.
Future courses will cover root cause analysis, safety management, process hazard analysis, enterprise risk management and others.
Viking Safety Academy has introduced e-learning tools to ensure seafarers can maintain their training compliance until restrictions on movement and social interactions are lifted.
Its training covers Standards for Training, Crewing and Watchkeeping (STCW) requirements. It enables seafarers to renew STCW certification through remote training and assessment.
Viking Safety Academy has worked with Estonia’s Reval Safety Training to offer STCW refresher training on an e-learning basis for Estonian seafarers.
This training set-up includes personal survival techniques, fire prevention and fire-fighting, proficiency in survival craft and rescue boats, fast rescue boats and advanced fire-fighting.
On 12 March, Estonia’s Maritime Administration informed the EU that e-learning covering the theoretical part of STCW training would be sufficient to support a certificate extension for Estonian seafarers valid for up to six months.
Other maritime authorities are following. The Norwegian Maritime Authority recently announced that it will allow seafarers to board Norwegian vessels until 1 July 2020, even if they have only completed the theoretical relevant parts of STCW.