North Sea nations sign autonomous vessel agreement

(KOSOR, Denmark) — The Danish Maritime Authority reports that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Kingdom and Belgium to improve collaboration in facilitating the increased use of digital technologies and autonomous systems on ships.

The signatory nations have agreed to share knowledge regarding ongoing activities in these areas, with efforts to be made to involve other North Sea countries in the group and widen its activities.

In particular, the MoU looks to facilitate at-sea operation of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) technologies in the North Sea, to ensure that they can be operated safely under the different national frameworks and requirements of each of the signatory countries.

The agreement recognizes and aims to build on 2019 guidelines from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the testing of MASS, which require coordination between flag states and the relevant coastal states in case of cross-border testing activities.

The IMO is also developing a non-mandatory MASS code for cargo ships, expected to be finalized by 2025, which was also cited by the Danish Maritime Authority as a further motivation for increased MASS testing.

– Smart Maritime Network

By Professional Mariner Staff