BIMCO to highlight autonomous ships and 2020 fuel challenges at IMO


BIMCO and industry partners will contribute to constructive discussions of a number of important topics such as guidelines for autonomous ships and 2020 fuel challenges at the 100th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 100) in London on 3 – 7 December 2018.

Ahead of the Committee meeting, BIMCO has submitted six co-sponsored papers in total. Among the six papers is a submission by Norway and BIMCO regarding the development of interim guidelines on how Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) can be tried first in protected waters and later in open waters.

BIMCO believes is an important precautionary measure to test MASS in a controlled environment. Testing is necessary because it will enable collection and sharing of information, so that the potential of MASS operations in international waters may be explored in due time.

“This is an important part of the discussion related to MASS. The proposal highlights such measures to ensure that the gathering of information and experience can be done in a safe way,” Head of Maritime Technology and Regulation at BIMCO, Aron Frank Sørensen says.

On the agenda at the Committee meeting in London is also the establishment of a new regulatory framework relating to MASS and an initial regulatory scoping exercise will commence in order to identify which IMO regulations are affected.

The different stages of autonomy will be considered at the session and whether the new MASS regulation should be instrumented through a new code or directly into SOLAS. 

The challenges of 2020 compliant fuels

Another of the six papers calls for discussions of safety implications and respective challenges associated with 2020 compliant fuels. The paper has been submitted by BIMCO, Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Panama, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO and provides further technical information to assist the MSC 100 on the implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI. 

“We are asking the MSC to discuss the identified safety implications associated with the use of fuels compliant with the 0.50% sulphur limit entering into force on 1 January 2020,” Sørensen says.

A large number of fuel properties that need to be dissed from a safety point of view is mentioned in the paper such as flame point, acid number and flow point. Chemical properties will influence how the crew needs to handle and store the fuel in a safe way. Also, the stability of the fuel is pointed out because a blend of fuel needs not only to be stable but also should have a degree of reserve stability so that it will remain stable during periods of storage and treatment at elevated temperatures.

One of the measures proposed on the MSC agenda is that parties to MARPOL Annex VI should establish bunker supplier licensing schemes, which may enhance the enforcement of compliant fuel. 
In addition to the two co-sponsored papers, BIMCO has submitted and co-sponsored a paper related to draft amendments to the International Life-Saving Appliance (LSA) Code, a paper relating to Industry Counter Piracy Guidelines and a paper relating to standardized reporting of global piracy and armed robbery incidents.

Finally, BIMCO has co-sponsored a paper with a proposal for a new output for a revision of resolution A.949(23) on Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance.


Mette Kronholm Frænde
in Copenhagen, DK


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