For the first time, IMO will discuss the maritime autonomous ships. The use of autonomous ships – or so-called unmanned ships - will create the need for a regulatory framework for such ships and their interaction and co-existence with manned ships.
BIMCO’s Maritime Technology and Regulation Department will attend the 99th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99), which will be held from 16 - 25 May 2018 in London.
The MSC is the technical committee of IMO. It considers any matter concerned with aids to navigation, construction and equipment of vessels, manning from a safety standpoint, rules for the prevention of collisions, handling of dangerous cargoes, maritime security and safety procedures and requirements, marine casualty investigations, salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime safety. The MSC approves and adopts amendments to conventions such as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The agenda for MSC 99 is comprehensive and the following central items should be highlighted:
MSC 99 will consider several of amendments to the following IMO Conventions:
The 2011 ESP Code contains the survey requirements for bulk carriers and oil tankers. The Code has recently been reviewed and are now ready for MSC to issue a resolution on the amendments. The update of the code has taken a long time, and it is expected that the draft amendments to the ESP Code will be considered for approval at MSC 99, with a subsequent adoption at MSC 100.
The entry in to force are expected to be 1 July 2020. Note, that the MSC resolution repeats much of the IACS Unified Requirements (URs) as set out in the Z10 series.
IMO will discuss the maritime autonomous ships. The use of autonomous ships – or so-called Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) - will create the need for a new regulatory framework that takes into consideration interaction and co-existence with existing ships. It will be a regulatory scoping exercise in order to identify affected IMO regulations.
MSC 99 are asked to embark on a regulatory scoping exercise in order to identify affected IMO regulations.
BIMCO supports the initiative by the IMO to assess the need for changes to international conventions and national laws for autonomous ships to operate worldwide. There is an urgent need to come up with a definition of an autonomous ship is and this will be taken forward to MSC by emphasising that there is a need for developing categories of ships with different levels of automation. They should cover from partially automated systems that assist the seafarers to fully autonomous systems, which can undertake all aspects of a ships' operation without human intervention.
MSC 99 will also have to discuss the personal mobility and practical seating capacity in survival crafts. This is the first time the unexpected application of minimum seating space is submitted to IMO. The way they are designed today leaves seafarers and passenger with very little or no space, so they cannot move around the craft eg for sanitary or medical reasons.
There is thus an urgent need to develop of a minimum standard for personal mobility and seating space in survival crafts by developing new regulation addressing additional space for movement after the occupants are seated.
BIMCO has together with other industry organizations and flag States co-sponsored three submissions:
A brief report on the outcome of the meeting will be published shortly after the meeting.
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