The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is readying for the advent of automation in the shipping industry, with a major scoping exercise to safeguard against future disasters, including oil spills and collisions.
Speaking at the regional Spillcon event held in Perth, Australia, in May, Patricia Charlebois, deputy director, Implementation Marine Environment Division, stressed the oil spill response community would need to consider new risk scenarios.
Charlebois told SAS that the IMO had a key strategic direction to integrate new and advancing technologies into its regulatory framework.
“Of course, cyber-risk management is very important as more and more systems become automated,” she said. “Whether you’re talking about an oil tanker or a different kind of ship, cyber-risk management should [play] a part .”
The IMO is now looking at how existing regulations might apply to ships with varying degrees of automation through a regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS).
The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed to examine how safe, secure, and environmentally sound operation of MASS could be introduced in IMO regulations in 2017 after a proposal by member states.
The scoping exercise includes a review of safety and maritime security (SOLAS); collision regulations (COLREG); loading and stability (Load Lines); training of seafarers and fishers (STCW, STCW-F) search and rescue (SAR); tonnage measurement (Tonnage Convention), and convention for safe containers (CSC).
IMO guidelines on maritime cyber-risk management set out procedures on how to safeguard shipping from current and emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
The guidelines, which cover digitisation, integration, and automation of processes and systems in shipping, identify bridge systems, propulsion and machinery management, power control, and communication systems among the most vulnerable to cyber attack.
The IMO aims to complete the scoping exercise by 2020. Meanwhile, interim guidelines for MASS trials were approved in June.