IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee finalizes its analysis of ship safety treaties, to assess next steps for regulating Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)
Clarifying the meaning of the term “master”, “crew” or “responsible person” has been identified as a high priority
The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), at its 103rd session in May 2021, has completed a regulatory scoping exercise to analyze relevant ship safety treaties, in order to assess how Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) could be regulated.
The completion of the scoping exercise represents an all important first step, paving the way to focused discussions to ensure that regulation will keep pace with technological developments.
The scoping exercise was initiated in 2017 to determine how safe, secure and environmentally sound MASS operations might be addressed in IMO instruments.
The exercise involved assessing a substantial number of IMO treaty instruments under the remit of the MSC and identifying provisions which applied to MASS and prevented MASS operations; or applied to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations and require no actions; or applied to MASS and do not prevent MASS operations but may need to be amended or clarified, and/or may contain gaps; or have no application to MASS operations.
Varying degrees of autonomy were considered: crewed ship with automated processes and decision support (Degree One); remotely controlled ship with seafarers on board (Degree Two); remotely controlled ship without seafarers on board (Degree Three); and fully autonomous ship (Degree Four).