GENERAL Archives - SHIP IP LTD

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The shipping industry, like many others, continues to suffer as a result of the global spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Whilst hope remains that the outbreak can be managed and brought under control, the spread of the pandemic may stimulate or accelerate the adoption of autonomous technology onboard vessels and drive interest in the commercial use of MASS. During lockdown, we have been approached by numerous owners and charterers to advise on the impact of COVID-19 on conventional shipping, including issues regarding crew changes, repatriation, interpretation of force majeure clauses and the doctrine of frustration, insurance coverage issues, completion of the sale and purchase of vessels, ship building issues, refit and repair contracts and navigational restrictions. Whilst all of these issues will also be relevant for autonomous vessels, some MASS are, by design, insulated from the current crewing challenges facing the conventional shipping industry.

The impact of COVID-19 on crews should not be understated. The International Chamber of Shipping has estimated that every month roughly 100,000 seafarers reach the end of their employment contract and need to be repatriated. However, most jurisdictions have implemented restrictive rules for seafarers transiting their jurisdiction, either to return home or to join a vessel. Guy Platten, the International Chamber of Shipping’s Secretary-General, recently warned that there are “currently 1.2 million seafarers at sea … limitations on crew changes have potential to cause serious disruption to the flow of trade”.

Depending on the level of autonomy displayed by a MASS, these crewing issues are less likely to impact the vessel’s operational performance and, with the uncertainty surrounding when a worldwide vaccine will become available, we expect that there is likely to be increasing interest in MASS.

The spread of COVID-19 has also forced shipping companies to implement remote working and digital technologies for business continuation and fleet optimisation. For example, suppliers of unmanned aerial vehicles and remote-control services have found new markets in ship inspections. Further, shipping companies and original equipment manufacturers are using artificial intelligence for predictive maintenance, intelligent scheduling, real-time analytics and improving performance. Digitalisation has also opened new services and connectivity for class. For example, DNV GL now issues an e-certificate every four minutes and 80% of its customers have indicated they would use a digital tool for smart survey bookings. DNV GL has completed 17,400 remote surveys since 2018, over half of which have taken place in the past 6 months, with DNV GL conducting on average 300 remote surveys per week since coronavirus-restricted travel was implemented.

COVID-19 has, however, caused a number of MASS-related projects to be put on hold. Regular readers of our bulletins will recall that we have reported previously on the Yara Birkeland. The hull was launched in Romania in February 2020 and was expected to arrive at the Vard Brevik shipyard in Norway in May where it was due to be fitted with control and navigation systems and undergo testing. As a result of the pandemic and the change in the global shipping outlook, Yara International has paused further construction. We may see other projects being put on hold until the economic impact of COVID-19 is fully understood.

MASRC20

At the 5th annual MASRC, held at the UK Chamber of Shipping on 15-16 January 2020, stakeholders discussed the opportunities and issues associated with MASS, including costs, growth and performance. Despite there being more than 1,000 autonomous vessels operating in international waters, together accumulating tens of thousands of incident-free days at sea, there were differing views as to just how successful MASS will be. Operators of small autonomous vessels were optimistic. However, larger shipping operators were more sceptical, for example as to the reliability of software and systems, and the costs of modifying conventional vessels to enable autonomous capabilities.

The event featured a number of presentations, covering a range of aspects in relation to autonomous shipping. These included presentations on the IMO’s Regulatory Scoping Exercise, cyber risks and autonomous navigation. In a keynote speech, Nusrat Ghani MP discussed the UK Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy, which aims to make the UK a global maritime leader and grow the industry over the next few decades. The speech focussed on technology, digitalisation and the environment, with clear support being expressed for autonomous maritime technologies. It is unclear if the financial issues caused by the current pandemic will impact this plan.

Advantages of autonomy on the transport modes

A recent TT Club online forum broached the subject of ‘Drones and autonomous vehicles: The future… now?’. During the forum, the panel examined the barriers to growth of autonomous freight transport. Speakers included Svilen Rangelov (Co-Founder and CEO at Dronamics); Pranav Manpuria (CEO of autonomous truck developer, Flux Auto) and Hussain Quraishi (Strategic Innovation Manager at Wärtsilä).

The panellists suggested that increased automation at sea would lead to improved safety and voyage optimisation (which had already been realised). In the medium-term, reduced crewing was expected to impact upon coastal trade the most as crew expense forms a greater percentage of operating costs.

The lack of uniform regulation across national governments and even within countries was described as a major block to autonomous vehicle and drone deployment. The level of investment required was not, however, high on the list of obstacles.

Environmental hazards (such as bad weather affecting autonomous ships) were seen as challenges that technology could cope with, while the avoidance of human error will improve safety. However, the forum concluded that vulnerability to cyber-attack was perceived to increase with the use of computer-controlled vehicles and was therefore a strong disincentive to adoption.

Investments in MASS projects

Some stakeholders see significant market potential in autonomous vessels, with such vessels expected to promote safe, efficient and sustainable operations around the world. An example is Kongsberg, which has designed a project to test and develop a wide range of autonomous technologies in collaboration with a number of partners. This includes navigation and intelligent machinery systems, self-diagnostics, prognostics and operation scheduling capabilities, and communication technology. The project will receive a €20.1m grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to equip two vessels with such technologies, so that they can be autonomous and controlled remotely.

Separately, Kongsberg has recently announced that, as part of a collaboration with Bastø Fosen and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA), the world’s first adaptive ferry can demonstrate automatic control. By integrating autonomous technology onto the Bastø Fosen VI, the vessel is able to transport passengers and vehicles between docks, and is also able to perform all docking and crossing functions to a high degree of accuracy. However, it remains manned by a full crew and is currently not fully autonomous. For example, in the event that the vessel is on a collision course, an alarm will sound to signal that human intervention is required to avoid objects or other vessels. Nevertheless, the benefits of the technology are clear, and include optimised fuel consumption, operational cost savings, improved timekeeping and higher customer satisfaction. A six-month trial period is currently underway, and an anti-collision system is expected to be installed and tested later this year. Although regulations will need to keep pace, it is encouraging that bodies such as the NMA are facilitating developments in the autonomous shipping space.

A 27m harbour tug owned and operated by PSA Marine has also been equipped with technology (made by Wärtsilä) to enable it to navigate autonomously. Initial sea trials were successfully completed in Singapore in mid-March 2020, having commenced in September 2019, and work will continue throughout 2020. It was confirmed that the technology is capable of avoiding obstacles, including both real-life moving vessels and virtual obstacles. A smart navigation system allowed for routes to be planned in real time, also sending track and speed commands to Wärtsilä’s dynamic positioning system that sailed the vessel at varying speeds. The trials represent a first for commercial MASS using the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s regulatory sandbox, and are part of an initiative to promote the development of MASS.

A Japanese consortium consisting of Marubeni Corporation, Tryangle, Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, and the City of Yokosuka is to launch a pilot project that will aim to establish the technology for autonomous ship operation in Yokosuka City. A pilot project is being trialled on a voyage route between Mikasa Pier and Sarushima Island in Yokosuka City. The autonomous ship technology, which is being developed by Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding, is to be retrofitted onto an existing small-sized passenger boat operated by Tryangle. Autonomous ship operations will include berthing and unberthing. The ship crew will, however, remain onboard. The retrofitting will be completed by the end of 2021, and the autonomous operation will start before the end of March 2022.

The Royal Navy has begun trials of an autonomous model of the Pacific 24, a rigid inflatable vessel which has been in service for 25 years. The autonomous model has been developed by Navy X, the Royal Navy’s innovation wing, and BAE Systems. The Pacific 24’s control system and sensors have been upgraded and the Royal Navy will be able to programme the vessel to fulfil an order. The vessel will then be able to calculate the best way to carry out the task.

Wärtsilä have announced that they will provide a high-speed, high-resolution K-band radar system designed to provide high levels of situational awareness – especially in densely populated marine environments to the Mayflower autonomous vessel. As discussed in our January bulletin, the Mayflower will undertake the same voyage as its namesake during which it will conduct oceanographic research. The Mayflower is 15 metres long and weighs 5 tonnes. Sea trials began in March 2020 and the transatlantic voyage is scheduled to take place in April 2021.

A consortium made up of C-Job Naval Architects, LISA, seazip Offshore Service, Sea Machines, MARIN, and el-Tec elektrotechnologie has released a concept design for an autonomous guard vessel (AGV). These vessels are designed to protect offshore windfarms and the ships trying to navigate around them. By removing the vessels’ crew, the design is smaller and lighter than current guard vessels allowing it to be battery powered. When other vessels approach the asset protected by an AGV, the AGV is designed to take action to secure the area in order to avoid collisions and damage to the offshore infrastructure. The AGV can communicate with an intruding vessel, send information on how to safely navigate the area and also physically escort intruding vessels away from the site while recording the encounter to provide video footage in case of any incident.

Abu Dhabi Ports has begun to work with naval architects at Robert Allan to develop autonomous port vessels, including tugs for unmanned towage and harbour operations. The vessels will be capable of remote control operations and could potentially become fully unmanned, enabling the vessels to operate in more adverse weather conditions.

South Korea has announced the launching of a project to develop MASS by 2025. The aim is to build vessels with the third level of autonomy as defined by the IMO (i.e. Remotely controlled without seafarers on board). The Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries have set up a specific working group and have allocated 160 billion won (US$132 million) to the project. The project’s aim is to capture 50% of the market share of the global autonomous vessel market by 2023.

India-based Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) has signed contracts for the construction and supply of two autonomous electric freight ferries for Norway-based ASKO Maritime AS, a subsidiary group of Norges Gruppen ASA, with an option to build two more identical vessels. The 67-metre long vessels will initially be delivered as fully-electric transport ferries, powered by an 1,846 kwh capacity battery. The ferries are being built with the help of NOK119m ($12.8m) in Norwegian Government funding as part of a project to provide emissions-free transportation of goods across the Oslo Fjord. They will be operated by Massterly AS, a joint venture between Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen. Massterly was set up to take technical management and operate autonomous vessels. After commissioning of autonomous equipment and field trials in Norway, the vessels will operate as fully autonomous ferries, able to transport 16 fully loaded standard EU trailers in one trip across the Fjord.

South Korea-based shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has signed an agreement with the Port of Rotterdam Authority to develop ship-related smart technologies.

The two companies will study how to develop smart ships suitable for digitalised ports over the next three years with a significant focus on autonomous operations.

At the recent Netherlands Forum for Smart Shipping, Kotug International, Rotortug and tech start-up Captain AI demonstrated a novel piece of dispatch planning software which enables real-time optimised route planning for autonomous vessels. The system uses AIS data and artificial intelligence, connected to the autonomous tug’s autopilot. The software, Captain AI Route Planner, acts as a “Google Maps for waterways” and plans the route which the tug follows autonomously, using the Captain AI Autopilot software. By using the software, autonomous vessels are anticipated to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by following the optimal route. The software builds on Kotug International and Rotortug’s 2018 demonstration of a tug in the Port of Rotterdam being operated remotely from Marseille, France.

Regulatory and software developments

The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping has published guidelines on the classification of MASS. The guidelines address the survey of MASS under design and construction stages, conversion into MASS and manufacturing of materials and products for MASS. The focal areas include the situational awareness systems, radio and data communication, navigation and manoeuvring, and propulsion. The document also specifies the track marking and remote control centre that play an important role in the MASS monitoring and safe navigation.

A UK based company called Windward has released Maritime Artificial Intelligence Analytics (MAIA) 4.0 which it describes as software that is capable of screening, searching and analysing dynamic maritime data to connect data and discover potential risks and “questionable business partners”. The intention is that the software will use dynamic predictive intelligence based on a vessel’s identity, cargo, location and voyage patterns (amongst other data) and then link this to patterns and profiles. One aspect that the software has been designed to spot is voyage irregularities. Windward hopes that its software will be able to profile activity in the shipping market so that stakeholders will be able to easily ascertain whether they are dealing with businesses that are compliant with the latest regulations.

Data sharing

Solis Marine and maritrace have developed an online platform to demonstrate how complex datasets derived from a multitude of sources at a single port can be consolidated into one distribution system. The platform is part of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) marlab project, and allows MASS to access data collected from the test site, Portland Harbour in Dorset, on demand. The datasets cover, for example, information regarding maritime traffic, seabed and weather conditions. It is hoped that the sharing of data between the MCA and other organisations will further the development of MASS, such as in relation to the programming of MASS. However, Dr. Katrina Kemp from the MCA has said that the UK needs a clear regulatory pathway for MASS.

In January 2020, the project team had invited stakeholders to test the prototype, in order to provide marlab with valuable feedback. A five month period of testing at Portland Harbour enabled the development of a technology stack to demonstrate how multiple data sources from a single port could be consolidated into a single location for MASS operators to then access the data on demand.

HFW involvement

HFW had been intending to participate in a number of events, such as the Autonomous Ship and Technology Symposium, but some of these have been postponed until next year.

Notwithstanding this, HFW have been asked by BIMCO to take part in a project to adapt SHIPMAN 2009 to provide third party management services for autonomous ships. The drafting sub-committee includes Massterly, NYK, Anglo Eastern, Gard and HFW. The project is ongoing, with meetings taking place remotely and good progress has been made.

Finally, certain events have been moved online and HFW have recently been involved with the Swansea Colloquium at Swansea University in which Paul Dean gave a paper on Autonomous Systems and looked at the impact of cyber risks and seaworthiness of MASS. The paper examined recent cyber security breaches and provided an insight as to how the courts are likely to consider an owner’s failure to adequately prevent a cyber-attack.

Conclusion

Since our last bulletin, the continuing development of MASS has proven to be resilient, albeit not immune, to the challenges of COVID-19. While the pandemic continues, one can see MASS becoming increasingly attractive, if only to avoid the crewing challenges caused by the pandemic. However, it is the fear of another virus – cyber – which remains one of the biggest obstacles facing the development of MASS. HFW continues to advise in this area, including drafting one of the first bespoke cyber insurance policies and playing a key role in the BIMCO drafting sub-committee for the BIMCO Cyber Security Clause 2019.

Source: lexology


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In the May 2019 edition of Legalseas, we reflected on the implication of the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Evergreen Marine v Nautical Challenge (Evergreen) when considering the interaction (and interpretation) of the Collision Regulations (COLREGs) (specifically the crossing rule (Rule 15) and narrow channel rule (Rule 9)) in circumstances when they appeared to conflict.In this edition, we consider how the facts in Evergreen demonstrate the challenges faced by those developing autonomous vessels and particularly the algorithm-based navigational systems which will need to interpret the Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs). We have used the Evergreen case to consider circumstances where obligations under the COLREGs appear to conflict and speculate how the outcome may have differed if both or either the Ever Smart (the at-fault vessel) and Alexandra I (the inbound vessel) were fully autonomous.

COLREGs and Automation

The regulatory framework governing safe navigation has historically been premised on objective rules interpreted through a human element; for example the “manning” of ships, the “charge of a master,” or taking precautions required by the “ordinary practice of seaman.” Subjective standards are pervasive throughout the UN Law of the Sea Convention 1982, IMO Regulations, domestic shipping legislation, including the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and civil liability conventions.

The COLREGs are particularly relevant in this regard. Since 1977, seafarers have been obliged to comply with the COLREGs on issues of collision avoidance and, indeed, courts have interpreted the COLREGs when apportioning liability arising from collisions. Being practical rules, having as their primary object the prevention of collisions at sea, the COLREGs provide objective guidance on vessel priority but also necessitate (subjective) deviations from the rules, in accordance with the ordinary practice of seamen if the circumstance requires. By way of example, COLREGs, Rule 2 states, “Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.” This subjective interpretation of an objective rulebook highlights the inherent challenge in automating deviations from a set of rules, absent a human element.

There has been significant discussion across the shipping industry as to whether unmanned or fully AI-enabled vessels can strictly comply with provisions under the current COLREGs, including on Rule 2 (responsibility), Rule 8 (action to avoid-collision) with regard to the seamanship standard, Rule 5 (look-out), and Rule 18 (responsibilities between vessels) with regard to vessels “under command.”

Various research studies conducted over the course of the past 12 to 18 months have allegedly demonstrated that autonomous vessels can meet (or exceed) the current COLREGs collision avoidance rules. Rolls Royce’s MAXCMAS project (Machine Executable Collision Regulations for Marine Autonomous Systems), in partnership with Lloyd’s Register (amongst others), claim to have developed an algorithm–enabling, AI-based navigational system to effectively enact the COLREGs rules in a manner that is “indistinguishable from good seafarer behaviour,” even in circumstances “when the give-way vessel isn’t taking appropriate action.” The latter will be essential when both autonomous vessels and manned vessels are trying to keep out of the way of one another.

While this article does not seek to address issues of strict compliance, the case of Evergreen demonstrates two issues: (i) that the identity of the “give way” vessel may not always be readily apparent to experienced deck officers; and (ii) that “good seafarer behaviour”, in the context of apportioning liability, is not a fixed standard – it is a product of factual circumstance, interpreted through the (various) rules of the COLREGs, past case law, and the views of expert nautical assessors (the Elder Brethren of Trinity House) post-event. Just as one of the dilemmas facing masters and bridge watch keepers is what to do when faced with a situation where obligations under the COLREGs appear to conflict, those developing autonomous shipping solutions must equally grapple with the same dilemmas; save that they have to program these decisions pre-event in a way that is predictable or the system will have to apply machine learning to be able to comply with the Rules.

In this article we assume that the 1972 COLREGs are applicable to both manned vessels and vessels controlled by AI. The issue of whether an autonomous ship can be programmed to determine whether Section II – Conduct of vessels in sight of one another (Rules 11-18) and Section III – Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility (Rule 19) of Part B – Steering and sailing rules, applies to a developing close quarters situation is an important one but while manned and unmanned ships are sharing the same waterways, then it will be essential that both comply with the same rules. We discuss the issues arising from this assumption at the end of this article.

Below, we have considered whether, on the facts in Evergreen, two autonomous vessels would have been able to avoid a collision. In doing so, we also consider a number of the challenges facing developers of maritime AI solutions from a collision liability perspective.

Discussion

Rule of Law

Counsel for Ever Smart (the at-fault vessel) argued on appeal that “there was no rule of law” as to the priority of the narrow channel rule (Rule 9) in a crossing vessel situation (Rule 15). When interpreting the interaction of Rule 15 and Rule 9, the first instance judge relied (with some emphasis) on statements of principle from two non-binding cases with a similar (although not identical) fact pattern, The Canberra Star [1962] and Kulemesin v HKSAR [2013]; the former a first instance decision and the latter a decision of a foreign court in criminal proceedings. While persuasive, neither case proffered definitive ratio (a finding that sets a legal precedent); the first instance judge chose to apply the statements of principle – both because of the “experience and knowledge” of the respective trial judges and also because he agreed with them – he was not, however, strictly bound to do so.

In determining whether the crossing rule applied, the first instance judge had considered whether Alexandra I was on a “sufficiently defined course.” There is no strict requirement under Rule 15 of the COLREGs that a vessel must be on a sufficiently defined course (or indeed any course) in order to be subject to the rule. The principle was established by Lord Wright in The Alcoa Rambler [1949]. Alexandra I’s course made good varied between 081 and 127 degrees at about 1-2 knots over the ground. She had traveled less than a mile in approximately 20 minutes. The court was satisfied that this was not ‘sufficiently defined’ to be considered a course, notwithstanding the constant south-easterly heading, and instead described Alexandra I as “waiting for the pilot vessel to arrive.” Consequently she was not bound by Rule 15 as she was not on a course that was crossing with that of the Ever Smart.

Neither the court of first instance nor the Court of Appeal provided additional clarification as to when a vessel (either by speed or by line or heading) will be deemed to be on a sufficiently constant course. Rather, the test appears to require an observer (who has spent “sufficient time” observing the vessel) to ascertain if the vessel is not on a defined course (i.e. constantly changing her heading). In the context of automation, this raises an obvious concern. For example, had Alexandra I been travelling at three knots, would that have made a material difference? Equally, had her course made good varied by a lesser degree (say between 90 and 110 degrees), would the system have drawn a different conclusion? What degree of variation would an AI system require to deem another vessel to be on a constant course?

If this situation was not apparent to two experienced masters, and at Court required an application of case law to determine the obligations of the two vessels, then is it likely that two autonomous vessels would have definitively been able to identify their respective obligations under the COLREGs? The very fact that permission to appeal was granted with respect to the issue of priority demonstrates that there was uncertainty as to the application of the narrow channel rule, and indeed this uncertainty would have arguably been amplified had the approach of Alexandra I been from the East (i.e. the hypothetical East to West scenario that the Elder Brethren were asked to comment on by the Court of Appeal judges) and not from the West. Further, absent clear guidance on when a vessel will be considered to be on a “sufficiently defined course,” it remains unclear as to whether a crossing situation could arise in the same or similar factual circumstance if the speed or bearing of Alexandra I had been more established. Even with the use of advanced algorithms, this may be a difficult puzzle for an autonomous system to solve.

Notwithstanding this conclusion, it is possible that autonomous vessels may have been able to avoid a collision, or at least may have acted so as to reduce the damage sustained from the collision, by correcting the “human errors” that were identified as increasing the causative potency of the respective masters’ actions.

As a general comment, many maritime casualties are not caused by one catastrophic mistake or failure; rather they are caused by a series of isolated minor decisions or circumstances which, in combination, result in the incident. To use a modern analogy, the holes in the Swiss cheese line up. These errors include the officer on watch (OOW) not following the correct procedure or missing some warning sign whether it be from the echo sounder, Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), automatic radar plotting aid (ARPA) or visually. The OOW is often distracted and can be mentally overloaded by the pressure of the environment and the flood of information, particularly in congested waters. AI would presumably not be distracted in this way and would not miss a warning sign.

Contributing human errors

The location of Alexandra I

There is reason to question why Alexandra I was present at the approach to the narrow channel in the first instance; both as a result of her early arrival to the approach channel (by 25 minutes or so) and the port Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Officer’s approval for Alexandra 1 to proceed to the channel entrance buoys when Ever Smart was travelling outbound from Jebel Ali. In addition to her proximity to the end of the channel, Alexandra I’s AIS was not operating at the time of the incident, making her less visible to local traffic, and she was criticized for maintaining a poor aural lookout – mistaking a VHF conversation between Port Control and a local tug boat.

While these contributing errors do little to exonerate the actions of Ever Smart from a liability perspective, it is anticipated that autonomous vessels will (by necessity) operate using enhanced AIS, GPS and radar, in addition to a full suite of sensors and cameras (including thermal and infrared), and will adopt predictive control algorithms to track and anticipate future vessel movements and respond accordingly.

Within congested or restricted shipping areas, automated VTS (or eNAV) will likely be implemented to ensure that vessels manoeuvring within a restricted area are informed of potential collision risks in real time – indeed, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has already trialled Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze marine traffic risks in the Singapore Strait. The provisional results demonstrate that the technology has the ability to “quantify risk in more detail and more quickly than it could be detected by human operators.”

Standardized messaging formats, including the use of hybrid messaging services such as a VHF Data Exchange Systems (VDES), supported by satellite as opposed to (or in addition to) radio frequencies, also have the potential to reduce miscommunication and increase the speed at which collision threats are communicated – absent the risk of misunderstanding (not identifying the relevant vessel) or miscomprehension (not understanding the VHF message due to linguistic or technological restrictions).

While these technologies are still being trialed, their potential to identify and report a collision risk, when applied to the factual scenario in Evergreen, may very well have highlighted the potential for collision between Alexandra I and Ever Smart substantially sooner than the “three seconds” in which the master of Ever Smart came to realise that a collision was inevitable.

The faults of Ever Smart

The first instance judge concluded that the actions of Ever Smart in proceeding along the port side of the narrow channel, in addition to her excessive speed at 11.8 knots and failure to keep a good visual lookout, had the greatest ‘causative potency’ in causing the damage that resulted from the collision.

Notwithstanding the arguments of the master of Ever Smart as to why he chose not to proceed to the starboard side (namely that he was not required to under the crossing rules), developments in the software designed to assist with unmanned or autonomous navigation could readily ensure that, within a narrow channel, both inbound and outbound vessel proceed on the starboard side (insofar as is practicable for it to do so) at pre-set maximum (safe) speeds.

Modern manned vessels are already equipped with Electronic Nautical Chart Systems (ECDIS), which are in turn linked to speed and depth sensors, as well as GPS and AIS. Implementing these systems to operate autonomously would allow Port Control (with the assistance of relevant hydrographic offices in creating/amending the charts) to better control speed limits, both during ordinary navigation but also when vessels are navigating within pre-specified distances of each other, to ensure that ‘safe speed’ is observed. While these restrictions do not, in themselves, eradicate the risk of collision, they do reduce the scope of likely damage arising from collisions.

With respect to Ever Smart’s failure to keep a good visual lookout, thermal and infrared high resolution cameras have the ability to identify objects when the human eye cannot. While the master of Ever Smart was only able to make out Alexandra I when she turned her deck lights on (three seconds before the collision) – modern cameras may have picked up Alexandra I ‘s heat signature, if not her outline using infrared, significantly earlier than the master.

Potential Issues

While technological advancements undoubtedly demonstrate the potential that autonomous vessels have in reducing collision risk, developers are faced with a number of problems that cannot be readily surmounted.

Unlike our past experience of large-scale adoption of autonomously-controlled machines, there will necessarily be a period in which autonomous, unmanned and manned vessels will navigate in the same waterways. Until there is clear guidance to the contrary, the expectation will be that the human standard will apply. It is relevant to note in this regard that case law has established that overreliance on technology will not satisfy the principles of good seamanship and, in any case, there is currently no case law considering a collision between a manned and unmanned or autonomous Vessel.

The duties under COLREGs differ whether Section II or Section III applies. Section II – Conduct of vessels in sight of one another (Rules 11-18) and Section III – Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility (Rule 19) of Part B – Steering and sailing rules, separately apply to a developing close quarters situation depending on the visibility. As part of applying the COLREGs to manned and unmanned ships, the AI systems will have to be able to understand the limitations of human eyesight to determine whether a manned ship is “not in sight” and then to follow Rule 19, instead of following Rules 11-18.

The fact that the AI system might have infra-red or night vision and therefore is able to “see” the other vessel would not be permitted to change the position, in fog for example, that the vessels are not “in sight” of one another. Alternatively should the regulators remove Rule 19 from the COLREGs altogether as a result of advances in technology on all ships (better radars, ARPA, AIS, better navigation systems, infra-red cameras etc) and rely only on Rule 6 (Safe Speed) and Section II? Rule 19 has been confusing generations of seafarers since 1977 so their deletion may not be mourned. But either way, it is hard to see how regulators can allow autonomous ships to sail the oceans while the COLREGs contain two sets of steering and sailing rules.

There will be a risk to software developers and Owners of autonomous vessels alike. Developers of marine Al systems are not only required to codify compliance with the seamanship standard currently in use, but are also required to produce algorithms that allow autonomous vessels to interact with manned vessels, unmanned (remote controlled) vessels and truly autonomous vessels in a way that is predictable to each of them; irrespective of the differing states of technology on-board (for example, autonomous vessels may be required to interpret standard frequency VHF messages even when equipped with a VDES system).

But even if the COLREGs were unambiguous, comprehensive and consistent (which they are not), then we still would not normally programm systems to have no discretion at all. This is because situations always exist where the best course of action is to ignore or break the rules and designers of systems cannot identify all these exceptional situations in advance. Therefore machine learning will be required which must learn the necessary navigational behaviors to avoid or mitigate collisions, even given (indeed, especially given) ambiguous and conflicting regulations, just as human navigators do. But, of course, effective machine learning is only possible with sufficient data, and particularly data arising from collisions or near misses (what CS people call “edge cases”).

Liability

Despite all of that, accidents may still occur. Given that there is no case law on the matter, third party liability in the event of a collision involving an autonomous vessel is not yet clear. It is possible that developers may be liable for collision damage if it can be proven that a fault in programming onboard systems or in the way the machine learning has developed caused (or contributed to) a collision. Would such fault be akin to unseaworthiness? Would the software writers need to be covered by collision insurance?

In addition, there are also ethical considerations as to how an autonomous vessel should be programmed in scenarios in which AI is required to choose between loss or damage to its own vessel or cargo, and loss of human life or serious pollution (and the inevitable concerns that this may have from a liability perspective to developers, owners and insurers alike).

Consideration must also be given to future scenarios in which an autonomous vessel suffers a catastrophic failure – the worst case scenario being a complete electrical breakdown (for example, as a result of generator failure, cyber-attack, or electro-magnetic disruption). The vessel may no longer be a vessel “under command” for the purposes of the COLREGs, however it may also be restricted in its ability to communicate this to nearby vessels or to shore based control centres in the absence of a ‘non-digital’ Master – who may still have the benefit of a satellite phone or, in the traditional way, hoist two black balls to the top of the mast.

Conclusion

Evergreen demonstrates that autonomous vessels may have struggled in those circumstances to definitively identify their respective obligations under the COLREGs due to the inherent ambiguity in priority. It remains unclear as to whether other factual scenarios can demonstrate similar ambiguities in priority between various rules of the COLREGs and it may be found necessary to review the COLREGs to remove as much uncertainty as possible. That said, no amount of redrafting will be able to give conclusive meaning to phrases such as “which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case” – Rule 2 – Responsibility.

Evergreen does, however, demonstrate that two autonomous vessels may have been able to identify the collision risk earlier than the Masters of Ever Smart and Alexandra I were able to, principally as a result of enhanced communications, audio-visual and locational technology. Programming of systems should prevent excessive speeds in narrow channels and prevent vessels loitering in hazardous positions. An earlier identification of the potential collision risk could have reduced, or altogether removed, the risk of collision and consequent damage sustained by Alexandra I making the question of a “sufficiently defined course” completely redundant.

Source: nortonrosefulbright


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Violent attacks against ships and their crews have risen in 2020, with 77 seafarers taken hostage or kidnapped for ransom since January, reveals the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest piracy report.

The Gulf of Guinea off West Africa is increasingly dangerous for commercial shipping, accounting for just over 90% of maritime kidnappings worldwide. Meanwhile ship hijackings are at their lowest since 1993. In total, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 98 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2020, up from 78 in Q2 2019.

The increasing threat of piracy adds to hardships already faced by hundreds of thousands of seafarers working beyond their contractual periods due to COVID-19 restrictions on crew rotations and international travel.

“Violence against crews is a growing risk in a workforce already under immense pressure,” says IMB Director Michael Howlett. “In the Gulf of Guinea, attackers armed with knives and guns now target crews on every type of vessel. Everyone’s vulnerable.”

So far this year, 49 crew have been kidnapped for ransom in the Gulf of Guinea and held captive on land for up to six weeks. Rates are accelerating, with 32 crew kidnapped in the past three months alone. And incidents are happening further out to sea: two-thirds of the vessels were attacked on the high seas from around 20 to 130 nautical miles off the Gulf of Guinea coastline.

IMB PRC urges vessels to report any attacks promptly. It can then liaise with coastal agencies, international navies and vessel operators, encouraging a quick response to deter piracy and armed robbery and improve the security of seafarers. IMB PRC also broadcasts to shipping via GMDSS Safety Net Services and email alerts to Company Security Officers.

“We need to change the risk-to-reward ratio for pirates operating within the Gulf of Guinea. Without an appropriate and proportionate deterrent, pirates and robbers will get more ruthless and more ambitious, increasing the risk to seafarers,” says Howlett.

In one recent case commended by IMB, the Nigerian Navy responded promptly to a distress call from a fishing vessel boarded and hijacked by armed assailants in Ivory Coast waters. As a result the crew were saved and the ship was prevented from being used as a possible mother vessel to carry out further attacks.

In another incident, a product tanker was attacked while underway around 127 nm off Bayelsa, Nigeria. Eight armed pirates kidnapped ten crew as well as stealing cash, personal valuables, and ship’s property. IMB PRC contacted regional and international authorities, and a Nigerian Navy Security Vessel was dispatched. A nearby sister vessel helped the four remaining crewmembers to sail the tanker to a safe port. The kidnapped crew were released three weeks later.

Singapore Straits

The Singapore Straits saw 11 incidents in the first half of 2020, raising the risk of collisions in this busy shipping channel, especially at night. Although most are opportunistic – low-level attacks that are aborted once the alarm is sounded –­­­­­­­ two reports in May 2020 indicated crew were threatened with knives, taken hostage and injured.

There were ten attacks in Indonesian anchorages and waterways in Q2 2020, up from five in Q1 2020.

Americas – Call for more reporting

IMB is recording more incidents in new areas of Latin America, but says many attacks go unreported, making the problem more difficult to tackle.

The four attacks that were reported in Mexico all targeted offshore vessels and happened within a span of 11 days in April. One anchored accommodation barge was boarded by six people wearing face masks and armed with automatic weapons and pistols. They attempted to enter and opened fire, leading to an injured crewmember and three damaged windows. The Master raised the alarm, sent a distress message, informed the Chief Security Officer, and the crew mustered in the citadel. The incident was reported to the Marine Control and a naval boat was dispatched, but the attackers escaped with the barge’s high value project equipment.

Incidents continue to be reported off Callao Anchorage, Peru, while vessels off the coast of neighbouring Ecuador have recorded incidents each year since 2017, with at least three container ships attacked while underway in Q2 2020. In one case, two crew were taken hostage for the duration of the robbery and in another the perpetrators fired on the ship when they were unable to gain access.

Somalia

No incidents were reported off Somalia. Vessels are urged to continue implementing Best Management Principles (BMP5) recommended practices while transiting these waters. The Somali pirates still maintain the capability for carrying out attacks.

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

Since 1991, the IMB PRC’s 24-hour manned center remains a single point of contact to report the crimes of piracy and armed robbery. The Centre not only assists ships in a timely manner, it also provides the maritime industry, response agencies and governments with transparent data received directly from the Master of the vessel under attack, or its owners.

Source: iccwbo


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Leading fleet management software provider Tero Marine extends its e-procurement solution to mobile devices to optimize the supply chain for people on the move.

The versatile app automatically alerts users’ mobile devices when a PO requires their approval, within preset rules.

These rules are configured in TM Master’s approval matrix and can be based on a variety of  parameters including; order type, account group, cost code and vessel.

Rune Lyngaas, Tero Marine’s CEO, said:

“The new app improves the e-procurement work-flow as decision makers can approve purchase orders on the move, ensuring that supply chains are not hindered by POs stacking up in the pipeline awaiting authorization. The app strengthens Tero Marine’s TM Procurement solution, which is a fully integrated part of the fleet management software system TM Master V2.”

In an industry where autonomy and automation is emerging, the timing of the launch of this app is perfect. The new app is available from 1st June.

Tero Marine is part of the Ocean Technologies Group, which is a global learning and operational technology company dedicated to accelerating the potential of innovative companies that serve the maritime industry in the 21st Century.

The Group also includes maritime e-learning training providers Seagull, Videotel and Maritime Training Services plus document and HSEQ solutions provider COEX.

Source: https://seawanderer.org/tero-marine-enhances-its-e-procurement-solution-with-a-new-purchasing-app


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WASHINGTONMay 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today Jennifer Carpenter, President & CEO of the American Waterways Operators, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on the status of the U.S. maritime supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In written testimony submitted to the Subcommittee, Mrs. Carpenter framed her analysis in terms of three overarching messages:  1) the U.S. domestic maritime supply chain is resilient; 2) business continuity does not – and cannot – mean business as usual, especially where health and safety are concerned; and, 3) Congress has a vital role to play in ensuring the stability of the public policy pillars that create the foundation for the supply chain’s resilience and the nation’s recovery.

On supply chain resilience, Mrs. Carpenter emphasized that the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry is playing a key role in keeping the nation’s economy afloat, continuing to transport vital commodities and guiding ships safely into port. Mrs. Carpenter stated: “While cargo volumes in many sectors have declined due to depressed demand, mariners have continued to report to work, vessels have continued to operate, and the industry has adapted to maintain operational continuity and readiness.”

Mrs. Carpenter also observed that a critical component of maintaining operational continuity during the pandemic has been the early prioritization of crewmember health and safety: “The industry’s extensive experience with contingency planning, safety management systems and incident command structures has served it well in managing the health, safety and operational challenges posed by the pandemic. A tow on the river or an articulated tug-barge unit at sea for two to four weeks at a time is effectively a self-quarantined environment, and companies quickly put in place – and have continued to refine – procedures aimed at keeping the virus off their vessels.”

When discussing Congress’s role in supporting the maritime supply chain, Mrs. Carpenter noted there are: “…four pillars that enable the tugboat, towboat and barge industry to do the essential work it does for American shippers and the American economy. Those pillars – the Jones Act; modern, well-maintained ports and waterways infrastructure; a nationally consistent system of laws and regulations governing vessels in interstate commerce; and maritime safety – are more important than ever amid the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mrs. Carpenter concluded: “The U.S. domestic maritime supply chain is resilient, and the tugboat, towboat and barge industry is well equipped to continue to serve our nation as we begin the long road to recovery from the economic disruption caused by this global public health crisis.”

Mrs. Carpenter’s full written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation is available here.

About the American Waterways Operators

The American Waterways Operators is the national trade association representing the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, which operates on the rivers, the Great Lakes, and along the coasts and in the harbors of the United States. Barge transportation serves the nation as the safest, most environmentally friendly and most economical mode of freight transportation. www.americanwaterways.com

SOURCE American Waterways Operators

Related Links

http://www.americanwaterways.com


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Recently, the third and final Air Warfare destroyer, appropriately named HMAS Sydney was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy.

This was a very significant moment on many levels for Australia and for its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

For this is not just about what a single Air Warfare destroyer capable of doing; it is about what it can do when operating as part of the broader maritime kill web, either to defend Australia out to its first island chain, or to contribute to a wider set of defense challenges in the region an beyond.

The Air Warfare destroyer is a key foundation for the new wave of Australian shipbuilding, one in which mission systems and integratable is a key requirement.

It is also about learning from that build process to set in motion a new approach, which I have highlighted in my report on the new build offshore patrol vessel.

In an article which I published in USNI Proceedings in 2012, I highlighted the coming of the kill web in my concept of the long reach of Aegis. The ADF in embracing the fifth-generation revolution and the opportunity to reshape the ADF along the lines of an integratable force, views the coming of the Air Warfare Destroyer not simply in terms of a powerful new platform for the Navy, but as a contribution to the integrated distributed force.

As RAAF Air Vice Marshal Chipman, now the Australian Military Representative to NATO and the European Union put it earlier in an interview:

“We need to have broad enough of a perspective so that we can drive programs towards joint outcomes.

“For example, it will be crucial to bring E-7, with F-35 and air warfare destroyers into a common decision-making space so that we can realise built in capabilities for integrated air and missile defense.”

“And that needs to be informed by shaping a common perspective with the USN and USAF as well.

Source: https://sldinfo.com/2020/05/the-coming-of-the-air-warfare-destroyer-to-australia-a-key-maritime-kill-web-building-block/


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WASHINGTONMay 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today Jennifer Carpenter, President & CEO of the American Waterways Operators, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on the status of the U.S. maritime supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In written testimony submitted to the Subcommittee, Mrs. Carpenter framed her analysis in terms of three overarching messages:  1) the U.S. domestic maritime supply chain is resilient; 2) business continuity does not – and cannot – mean business as usual, especially where health and safety are concerned; and, 3) Congress has a vital role to play in ensuring the stability of the public policy pillars that create the foundation for the supply chain’s resilience and the nation’s recovery.

On supply chain resilience, Mrs. Carpenter emphasized that the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry is playing a key role in keeping the nation’s economy afloat, continuing to transport vital commodities and guiding ships safely into port. Mrs. Carpenter stated: “While cargo volumes in many sectors have declined due to depressed demand, mariners have continued to report to work, vessels have continued to operate, and the industry has adapted to maintain operational continuity and readiness.”

Mrs. Carpenter also observed that a critical component of maintaining operational continuity during the pandemic has been the early prioritization of crewmember health and safety: “The industry’s extensive experience with contingency planning, safety management systems and incident command structures has served it well in managing the health, safety and operational challenges posed by the pandemic. A tow on the river or an articulated tug-barge unit at sea for two to four weeks at a time is effectively a self-quarantined environment, and companies quickly put in place – and have continued to refine – procedures aimed at keeping the virus off their vessels.”

When discussing Congress’s role in supporting the maritime supply chain, Mrs. Carpenter noted there are: “…four pillars that enable the tugboat, towboat and barge industry to do the essential work it does for American shippers and the American economy. Those pillars – the Jones Act; modern, well-maintained ports and waterways infrastructure; a nationally consistent system of laws and regulations governing vessels in interstate commerce; and maritime safety – are more important than ever amid the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mrs. Carpenter concluded: “The U.S. domestic maritime supply chain is resilient, and the tugboat, towboat and barge industry is well equipped to continue to serve our nation as we begin the long road to recovery from the economic disruption caused by this global public health crisis.”

Mrs. Carpenter’s full written testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation is available here.

About the American Waterways Operators

The American Waterways Operators is the national trade association representing the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, which operates on the rivers, the Great Lakes, and along the coasts and in the harbors of the United States. Barge transportation serves the nation as the safest, most environmentally friendly and most economical mode of freight transportation. www.americanwaterways.com

SOURCE American Waterways Operators


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Without a rudder, food, water, electricity, lights, wi-fi, refrigeration, GPS, security or safety lights, 15 seafarers sit at anchor in Manila Bay, Philippines. Abandoned on board the Spanish-flagged MV Celanova (IMO 9268394).

With batteries running low on their mobile phones, the crew who are trapped 13 nautical miles out at sea have been making calls for urgent assistance as the vessel is running dangerously low on fuel and diesel oil and the food, fresh water and medicines that the seafarers need to survive.

Without a rudder, food, water, electricity, lights, wi-fi, refrigeration, GPS, security or safety lights, 15 seafarers sit at anchor in Manila Bay, Philippines. Abandoned on board the Spanish-flagged MV Celanova (IMO 9268394).

With batteries running low on their mobile phones, the crew who are trapped 13 nautical miles out at sea have been making calls for urgent assistance as the vessel is running dangerously low on fuel and diesel oil and the food, fresh water and medicines that the seafarers need to survive.

In an earlier email one crew member wrote to the ITF asking when they could get fresh food on board. “We are eating something that three months ago we would have never thought we would have to eat,” she texted.

“Since February 21, when I was first informed of the case, there have been thousands of WhatsApp messages,” said Luz Baz, ITF Coordinator, Spain. “I’m in touch with them daily. But now the ship is in total blackout.”

Crew have been sleeping on deck as there is no air conditioning, but storms on Sunday night forced the seafarers to take shelter in the dark below deck, she said.

The 7600 gross tonnage MV Celanova is a Spanish flagged LPG tanker owned by GLOBALGAS SA, Madrid, Spain. The company has left the crew without pay for months and begging for vital provisions.

Alarmingly the LPG tanker was forced to discharge its dangerous cargo of Butadiene gas to another vessel on March 7, as the vessel was running out of the bunker fuel needed to keep the gas refrigerated.

On December 7, the tanker broke down and lost its rudder off the Philippines coast. Ten days later it was towed to anchor in Manila Bay.

Philippines Port State Control detained the vessel on 14 February after authorities found it to be in breach of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) over unpaid wages following notification by the ITF.

The ITF is urgently requesting Filipino authorities to allow the ship into port to facilitate assistance from the flag state and the vessels insurers, the American Club.

Local authorities have agreed but only on condition a tug is provided alongside the tanker and on standby while she is moored.

“I’ve worked over 14 years as an ITF inspector, I have dealt with many abandoned vessels so far and this is the first time someone has asked crew pay tug hire,” Baz said.

“The ship needs to be in port. The crew can’t start the engine. Something has to be done. The crew are desperate. They need fuel, fresh water, provisions, medication, safety parts,” she said.

Some of the Spanish and Caribbean crew have been on board since August, others since November.

Further exacerbating the seafarers’ plight, Spanish mortgage bank ABANCA is reportedly frustrating attempts to sell the vessel to help finance the owner’s debts.

Baz wrote to Maritime Authorities in Manila warning the ship and its crew were at enormous risk of potential anchor drift, fire on board or accident due to having no capacity to maneuver.

“The situation is seriously compromising the safety and health of a crew. They are exhausted after suffering months of enormous stress,” she wrote.

Despite the Philippines being a signatory to the MLC requiring governments to facilitate crew repatriation during abandonment, no action has been taken.

Their plight is further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ILO abandonment report says communications have been maintained with the ship’s owner and instructions have been given to provide food and fuel.

A flag state surveyor was on board from February 27 to March 2 to check the real situation, the ILO reported. The Spanish Maritime Administration is focused on getting crew members repatriated working together with all stakeholders including the ITF.

The Spanish government has also contacted the Philippines government requesting the ship be docked in safe port according to ILO reports.

Ship’s master Rolando Garcia Alarcon warned the ILO the ship has serious technical deficiencies. He requested authorisation for the ship to berth, based on humanitarian and safety reasons citing the ship being without a rudder, fuel and lights. The master also reported the vessel’s chains and anchors were damaged. Garbage on deck also poses a health risk and the crew and ship especially in the case of fire, he said.

The ITF has written to the International Labour Organization requesting their intervention.

Reference: itfglobal.org


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During April, there were zero new detentions of foreign flagged vessels in a UK port.

  1. In response to one of the recommendations of Lord Donaldson’s inquiry into the prevention of pollution from merchant shipping, and in compliance with the EU Directive on Port State Control (2009/16/EC as amended), the Maritime and Coastguard agency (MCA) publishes details of the foreign flagged vessels detained in UK ports each month.
  2. The UK is part of a regional agreement on port state control known as the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MOU) and information on all ships that are inspected is held centrally in an electronic database known as THETIS. This allows the ships with a high risk rating and poor detention records to be targeted for future inspection.
  3. Inspections of foreign flagged ships in UK ports are undertaken by surveyors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. When a ship is found to be not in compliance with applicable convention requirements, a deficiency may be raised. If any of their deficiencies are so serious, they have to be rectified before departure, then the ship will be detained.
  4. All deficiencies should be rectified before departure.
  5. When applicable, the list includes those passenger craft prevented from operating under the provisions of the EU Directive on a system of inspections for the safe operation of Ro-Ro passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft in regular service and amending directive 2009/16/EC and repealing Council Directive 1999/35/EC (Directive EU 2017/2110).

Notes on the list of detentions:

  • Full details of the ship:
    The accompanying detention list shows ship’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) number which is unchanging throughout the ship’s life and uniquely identifies it. It also shows the ship’s name and flag state at the time of its inspection.
  • Company:
    The company shown in the vessel’s Safety Management Certificate (SMC) or if there is no SMC, then the party otherwise believed to be responsible for the safety of the ship at the time of inspection.
  • Classification society:
    The list shows the classification society responsible for classing the ship only.
  • Recognised organisation:
    Responsible for conducting the statutory surveys: and issuing statutory certificates on behalf of the flag state.
  • White (WL), grey (GL) and black lists (BL) are issued by the Paris MoU on 01 July each year and shows the performance of flag state.
  • Deficiencies:
    The deficiencies listed are the ones which were detainable.

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The Tokyo MOU has released its Annual Report on Port State Control in the Asia-Pacific Region noting that the number of detentions was up in 2019 after seven years of decline.

Detention percentage also increased in 2019 after 10 continuous years’ decrease. The number of under-performing ships published and number of individual ships involved also rose in 2019. “These increases are considered as the encouraging outcome of improvement and enhancement on targeting or selecting ships for inspections and, emphasis on inspection of under-performing ships by the member Authorities, based on the observation of continuous increase of inspections of high risk ships and under-performing ships,” states the report.

ISM related detainable deficiencies have remained in the top three detainable deficiency categories for several years. One third of all detentions are on the grounds of a major non-compliance with ISM.

The average number of detainable deficiencies per detention is trending slowly upwards. As a result the Tokyo MOU will refine measures to inspect under-performing ships. These inspections will focus on the safety management system implemented on board ships and familiarization and understanding of operational requirements by the crew. Operational requirements continue to be an area of concern due to the increasing complexity of shipboard systems and the pace of change, and the MOU is looking at mechanisms to address this.

The MOU’s concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on Emergency Systems and Procedures was conducted from September 1 to November 30, with 7,174 CIC inspections. The most notable deficiencies found during the campaign were related to the muster list details in accordance with the requirements (178 deficiencies, 2.48 percent), emergency source of the electrical power supply to essential equipment (151 deficiencies, 2.10 percent), damage control plan readily available (137 deficiencies, 1.91 percent), steering gear system and its related emergency alarm operation (127 deficiencies, 1.77 percent) and capability of the public address system (112 deficiencies, 1.56 percent). Fifty-five ships were detained as a direct result of the CIC, which represents a percentage of 0.77 percent, lower than the overall detention percentage of 2.62 percent for the same period.

Membership of Tokyo MOU was further expanded in 2019 upon with the acceptance of Panama as the 21st full member of the MOU. With Panama, four of the top five world largest flags (Panama, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore) are members of the Tokyo MOU.

The report is available here.