IMO logo, microphone and a gavel.

BIMCO and partners prepare software maintenance submission to IMO

Published: 18 May 2022

A new industry working group established with the purpose of updating the existing Industry Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment has kicked of its work and aims to submit its recommendations to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The work can help ensure that shipboard software updates happen in a standardised, secure, and systematic way, preventing accidents such as blackouts and malfunctions.

In 2016, members of BIMCO and the Comité International Radio-Maritime (CIRM) came together to produce the Industry Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment, which was published in December 2017. The group that developed the standard consisted of bridge equipment manufacturers, engine manufacturers, service companies and shipowners.

The initiative was a reaction to the industry having seen incidents where ships suffered complete blackouts and malfunctions in radar and other related systems because of unforeseen difficulties with a software update.

Realising that the standard added an administrative burden for the ship and the software maintenance service provider, BIMCO and CIRM asked the International Standardization Organization (ISO) in 2018 to start developing a related suite of technical standards that would help automate the process.

As a result, the ISO 24060 “Ships and marine technology — Ship software logging system for operational technology” was published in 2021.

The newly formed industry working group on Software Maintenance (the working group) began its work in March this year and will meet again in May, with the ultimate aim of seeing the updated and adapted Industry Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment adopted by the IMO. 

Comprising representatives of BIMCO, CIRM, MAN Energy Solutions, Technip, International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), Belships, BP Shipping, Furuno Finland, and Sperry Marine, the working group will be considering relevant ISO standards and aligning the standard with relevant Unified Requirements of IACS where appropriate. In the process of drafting its proposal, the working group will be developing a new section addressing remote maintenance requirements, updating the existing standard so it reflects the best practice of the industry, and updating relevant cyber security practices.

Software maintenance includes checking, updating, re-configuring, or upgrading the software of shipboard equipment to prevent or correct faults, maintain regulatory compliance, and/or improve performance. The maintenance can be carried out onboard, ashore, and remotely.

Lifting software maintenance to the IMO is the next natural step for the working group and submission of the updated standard is expected at the start of next year. 

See the existing BIMCO publication Industry Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment

Aron Soerensen


Aron Soerensen

Head of Marine Environment

Copenhagen, Denmark