BIMCO's position on "autonomous ships" has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.
Technological developments have reached such a level that autonomous shipping is becoming a real prospect for international trade. An autonomous ship can operate for extended periods with various degrees of reduced human input. Three dimensions characterise such a ship: the automated systems in operation, the level of remote control, and the level of manning. At the International Maritime Organization (IMO), these three dimensions have been classified in four degrees of autonomy:
The above list does not represent a hierarchical order and a ship can operate at one or more degrees of autonomy during a voyage.
The IMO is currently researching how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of so-called Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) could be introduced into IMO instruments. A significant challenge may exist in adapting the regulatory framework to enable autonomous ships to trade globally. The introduction of autonomous ships could also have an impact on cargo liability regimes, such as the Hague and the Hague-Visby Rules. Furthermore, there are several challenges ranging from the human element to technical and commercial issues that need to be resolved. For example, cyber risk management will be increasingly important for autonomous ships. A cyber incident impacting a critical system on board may adversely affect the safety of the ship, crew and cargo.
BIMCO takes a leading role in facilitating the use of autonomous ships in international trade including the development of a standard ship management agreement for autonomous ships.
Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) publish regular Bunker Alerts based entirely on fuel samples and have kindly permitted BIMCO’s Members to access this information.
The Bunker Alerts are not intended to be an evaluation of overall bunker quality in the port or area concerned, but usually highlight a specific parameter within the fuel which has raised a quality issue.
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