IMO has introduced rules for ship-port data exchange and MSC will consider standardising bridge systems
All national governments and maritime authorities need to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports after a key piece of IMO legislation came into force in April 2019.
This requirement is mandatory under IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention). This was part of a package of amendments under a revised annex to the FAL Convention, adopted in 2016.
IMO secretary general Kitack Lim says electronic information exchange between ports and ships will make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient. “The new FAL Convention requirement marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world,” he says. “It reduces the administrative burden and increases the efficiency of maritime trade and transport.”
"Reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport”
There will be a single portal for data exchange. This enables all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted over a secure online system without generating duplication.
This requirement was implemented as IMO’s Facilitation Committee met at its 43rd session between 8-12 April 2019. During that meeting, the committee discussed harmonising and standardising electronic messages.
It reviewed the Compendium on Facilitation and Electronic Business that included data elements of the FAL Convention and revised guidelines for setting up a single window of electronic information exchange in maritime transport. This will be submitted for approval by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee when it meets for its 101st session (MSC 101) in London between 5-14 June.
In April, the FAL committee received an update on a successful IMO maritime single window project implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, with support from Norway. The source code developed during this project will be made available to other interested IMO member states.
At MSC 101, the committee will be updated on the work carried out by the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO) and Iridium Communications on providing alternative services for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
In April, IMSO and Iridium signed a public services agreement which details the conditions for IMSO to act as regulator and maintain oversight of Iridium’s GMDSS services.
Iridium director of maritime safety and security services Kyle Hurst told Maritime Digitalisation & Communications this is significant progress for commercial implementation of an IMO-approved GMDSS service in 2020.
“This agreement will be great information for MSC as they can clearly see that Iridium is progressing well,” he says. “We will continue to work with IMSO and other organisations to deliver Iridium GMDSS.”
“This agreement will be great information for MSC as they can clearly see that Iridium is progressing well”
Iridium has introduced a new generation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide maritime safety and operational communications worldwide. It worked with antenna manufacturers Cobham Satcom and Thales to produce terminals for its new Certus L-band services. These will have GMDSS capabilities ready for the official approval of Iridium services, says Mr Hurst.
Iridum’s first GMDSS-specific terminal, Lars Thrane LT-3100S, should be certified and type-approved by the end of this year, he explains.
Although terminals and satellite connectivity will be ready, SOLAS-class ships will have to wait until 2020 to use Iridium terminals for GMDSS when amendments made to the SOLAS Convention take effect. Mr Hurst says all non-SOLAS class vessels could begin using the service as soon as it is available.
MSC 101 will also review draft guidelines on performance standards for navigation equipment on ship bridges and on annually testing voyage data recorders (VDRs). The Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue sub-committee revised and amended these at its meeting in London in January 2019.
IMO intends to promote standardising human-machine interfaces and information used by seafarers on bridge systems including integrated navigation systems, radar and ECDIS. MSC will push for revised performance standards to come into force on 1 January 2024. It will also appraise draft guidance for navigation and communication equipment used on ships operating in polar waters in June. For VDRs, MSC will clarify the need for testing float-free capsules.
Standardising digital data and its exchange is seen as a critical component to the future of maritime logistics. The container shipping sector aims to develop this further in 2019 through collaboration and using container tracking technology. In April, four leading container ship operating companies formed the Digital Container Shipping Association. This group initially includes Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, MSC and Ocean Network Express, but other operators are expected to join later in 2019.
This association intends to focus on digitalisation and standardisation to improve transparency for cargo owners. It will promote common data exchange and visibility between industry stakeholders.
On the container tracking side, Maersk Line is a proponent of the technology and extended this to remotely monitor reefer containers.
In April, Maritime Digitalisation & Communications reported that CMA CGM and MSC were using Traxens’ technology to remotely monitor containers. This service includes a tracking and environment monitoring unit permanently fitted to a container. This records GPS position, temperature, impact, movement and door opening data and sends this over satellite to Traxens’ web portal hub.
Key IMO H2 2019 meetings
Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101)
IMO Council (122)
Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 6)
IMO Council – extraordinary session (30)
25 November - 5 December
IMO Assembly (31)
IMO Council (123)
Classification societies have published guidance for using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for ship surveys and autonomous vessels. Class is developing remote inspection technologies (RITs) for surveys and inspections by fitting digital technology and high definition cameras to remotely controlled devices.
Airborne drones are increasingly used for inspecting offshore installations in the oil, gas and renewables industries. They are also being tested for inspecting internal and external ship structures.
The International Association of Classification Societies’s unified requirements for using UAVs for remote inspections took effect in January 2019. In March, ABS introduced Guidance Notes on the Use of Remote Inspection Technologies to provide information on correctly using unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely operated underwater vehicles and robotic crawlers for inspections.
ABS senior vice president for western hemisphere operations John McDonald explains why these remote inspection technologies (RITs) are being adopted in various commercial segments in maritime.
“The use of RITs can reduce risk for surveyors and inspectors by lessening the need to access potentially hazardous locations at height, or other hazardous inspection areas,” says Mr McDonald. By using RITs, class can collect information, determine trends and the condition of vessel sections in a safe and effective way.
Drones can be used to inspect ship hulls underwater using robotic crawlers, and inside tanks and other hull cavities where it would be dangerous for surveyors to go. However, RIT use needs to be managed and surveyors controlling them need training and guidance on where to pilot them.
Lloyd’s Register (LR) produced new guidance notes on UAV inspections based on a pilot flare tip and boom inspection for an offshore installation in Liverpool Bay, and a test-and-learn project on a Maersk drilling rig. LR is also working with Oil Spill Response Ltd, a drone-based inspection service provider Sky-Futures to trial a surveillance and reconnaissance application.