IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee Advances Regulations For Autonomous Ships At MSC 108

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  • The 108th session of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108) has made significant progress in developing regulations for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).
  • The Committee has restructured the draft MASS Code, approved related reports, and set a revised roadmap for further development and implementation.

The 108th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108) was held from May 15 to 24, 2024. This session marked a crucial step forward in regulating Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), focusing on ensuring their safe operation alongside conventional ships. Key outcomes included the advancement of the draft MASS Code and the establishment of a revised roadmap for its development and implementation.

Progress in Developing the MASS Code

MSC 108 continued its efforts to develop a comprehensive Code for MASS, aiming to ensure these autonomous vessels operate safely in conjunction with traditional ships. The Committee approved the report from the third session of the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on MASS (MASS-JWG 3), noting significant progress in refining and restructuring the draft provisions of the MASS Code.

Revised Roadmap for MASS Code Development

Acknowledging the need for further work, the Committee agreed to revise the Road Map for developing the MASS Code, setting clear milestones for its finalization and adoption

  • May 2025: Finalize and adopt a non-mandatory MASS Code.
  • First half of 2026: Develop a framework for an experience-building phase (EPB).
  • 2028: Begin development of the mandatory MASS Code based on the non-mandatory version and consider amendments to SOLAS (new chapter) for adoption.
  • By 1 July 2030: Adoption of the mandatory Code, with an entry into force on 1 January 2032.

Establishment of Working Groups

To maintain momentum, MSC 108 agreed to re-establish the MSC/MASS-Intersessional Working Group, scheduled to meet from September 9 to 13, 2024. Additionally, the intersessional MASS Correspondence Group was re-established to continue its work and report back to MSC 109, which will convene from December 2 to 6, 2024.

The 108th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee has laid the groundwork for the integration of autonomous ships into the maritime industry. By setting a clear roadmap and re-establishing dedicated working groups, the IMO demonstrates its commitment to ensuring the safe and effective implementation of MASS, paving the way for a future where autonomous vessels operate harmoniously with conventional ships.

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Source: Safety4sea