IMO is working on a regulatory framework for autonomous shipping Ship’s crew

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) continues work to develop a regulatory framework for autonomous ships in response to rapidly evolving technology. The joint MSC-LEG-FAL working group on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) held its second meeting at IMO Headquarters in London last week. The event was preceded by a seminar on legal issues relating to MASS.

The aim of the joint working group is to address security, legal and facilitation issues with high priority in relation to MASS and to identify any regulatory gaps. Key agreements reached during the meeting included the need for a human captain to be in charge of an autonomous vessel, the possibility for the captain not to be on board but having the means to intervene if necessary, and that only a single Remote Operations Center (ROC) should be responsible for an autonomous ship at all times.

Other issues to consider include the conditions under which a captain may be in charge of multiple autonomous ships at the same time, and the roles and responsibilities of autonomous ship crew members. An updated work plan was agreed, which still needs to be approved by the three committees.

The third meeting of the joint MSC-LEG-FAL working group on MASS will take place in September, with a seminar on the implications, challenges and opportunities of MASS operations for ports and authorities before the meeting.

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