A working group will amend regulations to facilitate unmanned ship operations while MSC has produced interim guidelines for MASS trials
IMO is developing regulations covering maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) for trials and daily operations.
Its Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved interim guidelines for unmanned ship trials and set up a working group to identify which relevant treaties and provisions apply to or prevent MASS operations,.
IMO secretary general Kitack Lim said MSC “made significant progress with the regulatory scoping exercise for the use of MASS with the approval of interim guidelines and preparations for the intersessional MASS working group”.
IMO’s work will continue in September this year when a group of experts will examine existing regulations. They will report their findings at the next MSC meeting in May 2020, when regulation changes could be initiated.
Regulations are needed as the shipping industry begins designing, building, testing and operating autonomous ships for regional and worldwide trade.
The intersessional working group, meeting 2-6 September, will identify legislation and treaties needing amendments or clarification to enable lawful MASS operations. It will review comments submitted by interested parties during this session.
The working group will identify gaps in existing regulations, highlight rules with no application to MASS operations and those that are applicable, but require no actions.
Once this is completed, it will analyse treaties and determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations, accounting for the human element in shipping, existing and new technology, and operational factors.
Analysis is expected to identify the need for equivalences in IMO instruments and developing interpretations that apply to unmanned shipping. Analysis will recognise required amendments to existing instruments and where new instruments need to be developed.
This working group will advise MSC 102, in May 2020, of the changes required to IMO regulations and how to proceed with further analysis. This should lead to further work in 2020 to begin amending existing regulations and develop new rules and IMO instruments, building on the work of MSC 102.
In June this year, MSC 101 progressed with the scoping exercise to look at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of autonomous ships could be introduced in IMO instruments.
It created interim guidelines for MASS trials, explaining that demonstrations should be “conducted in a manner that provides at least the same degree of safety, security and protection of the environment as provided by the relevant instruments”.
MSC 101 requested those conducting trials identify risks associated with the trials and the measures introduced to reduce the risks to as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable.
This includes ensuring onboard and remote operators of unmanned ships are appropriately qualified for these operations. All personnel involved in MASS trials, whether remote or on board, should be appropriately qualified and experienced to safely conduct MASS trials.
IMO guidelines also request appropriate steps are taken to ensure sufficient cyber risk management of the systems and infrastructure used when conducting MASS trials.
During MSC 101, the committee endorsed the third version of Industry Guidelines on Cyber Security on Board Ships that raise the understanding and awareness of cyber risk management, with information on the response to, and recovery from, cyber incidents.
This document includes information for ship operators and owners on how to comply with resolution MSC.428(98) for incorporating maritime cyber risk management in safety management systems.
While the committee identified inconsistencies in implementing this resolution, it encouraged administrations to include cyber risks in safety management systems. But, it decided a separate cyber security management system from that of the safety management system was not necessary.
MSC 101 digitalisation achievements
Other amendments and approvals by MSC 101 included:
An operating autonomous maritime ecosystem by 2025
A consortium of organisations plan to have an operating ecosystem of autonomous vessels by the middle of the next decade. The Finland-led alliance One Sea has set up the Jaakonmeri test area for autonomous vessels in the Baltic and brought together a consortium of technical experts from academia, manufacturers and technology developers.
The latest additions to this group bring satellite communications for autonomous vessels to augment communications provided by Ericsson.
Inmarsat joined One Sea in Q2 2019 to provide ship-to-shore connectivity. Inmarsat Maritime vice president of business development Stefano Poli said this recognised the initiatives One Sea is targeting and its “goal-based approach to autonomous shipping” and the beneficial technologies.
In June, European Space Agency, which represents 22 European countries, partnered with One Sea to develop space-based applications to analyse, enable and implement maritime digitalisation and autonomy using satellites.
In June, NYK Group research subsidiary Monohakobi Technology Institute became a full member and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects became an associate member of One Sea.
Applications added to digital platforms
DNV GL added partners to its Veracity digitalisation platform in June to provide more solutions to its 160,000 users. Veracity is an exchange of digital services, datasets, interfaces and applications for ship operators.
Kongsberg Digital decided to combine its Kognifai ecosystem with Veracity to create a common platform for digital services.
Maindeck’s cloud-based drydocking software was also made available on Veracity. This assists shipping companies to manage drydock projects from planning to execution.
Another addition was SICK Sensor Intelligence which combines sensor technology with automatic identification system data and other relevant sources for maintenance and performance information.
In the last two months, Kongsberg has added KVH as its first connectivity partner and launched Vessel Insight. It has also added maritime statistics provider Marine Benchmark, bunker online portal BunkerEx, weather and wave information provider Meteomatics, and SteelCorr’s digital paint reporting application on Kognifai.