IMO Frames Autonomous Ship Rules


IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has launched meetings to discuss a wide array of rules targeting enhanced maritime safety, among them rules for safety regarding autonomous ships.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim opened MSC’s 98th session on June 7, 2017.

New rules rolled out:

Committee members are set to evaluate the scope of future rules on the safe operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).

Such rules might be introduced in IMO instruments, and in that case would take into account security and environmental soundness of autonomous ships.

Greater regulation needed:

While a lack of human error for such vessels may be a boon to insurers, they say greater regulation is needed.

Andrew Bardot, Executive Officer at International Group of P&I Clubs, told Insurance Marine News that: “I think that the important thing for insurers is to get the legal and regulatory framework that will surround the operation of these ships and what effect that will have on insurers. Technology moves quickly. Regulation moves slowly.”

Embracing automation:

Already the industry is embracing automation, with the world’s first autonomous containership ordered by a partnership between technology developer Kongsberg and Yara.

Yara’s automated vessel will initially operate as a manned vessel in 2018, moving to remote operation in 2019.

Circular on cyber risk:

IMO MSC members will likely also approve a circular on maritime cyber risk management guidelines and draft guidelines for port state control officers regarding certifying seafarers, hours of rest and manning.

Changes to be made in SOLAS fleet:

They may also approve changes to SOLAS chapter II-1 for passenger ships to prevent future accidents like the deadly wreck of cruise ship Costa Concordia.

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Source: International Maritime Organization (IMO)


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