Autonomous ships en-masse soon

Shipping companies will be able to commence operation of Russian-flagged autonomous vessels from 2021, Alexander Pinskiy, General Director of Industry Association MARINET and the project lead, said at the videoconference “Autonomous ships – progress or blind lane?” organized by PortNews Media Group.

As Marinet member Vitaly Klyuev, Advisor to Pola-Invest LLC, told during the event, introduction of autonomous ships en masse is expected in the world on the horizon of five-ten years. According to him, ship owners are to benefit from saving on crew costs which can account for up to a half of all operational expenses.

According to Alexander Pinsky, introduction of autonomous shipping ensures higher comfort and, what is more significant, higher safety for seafarers. Some of them will be involved as “maritime special forces” – emergency teams ready to board ships for controlling them manually or for responding to any possible problems.

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As for the regulatory aspect, Vitaly Klyuev does not see any unsolvable problems although this work has not been finalized yet, neither at the level of IMO, nor at the national level.

“Previously, experiments involved mostly small-size ships, port fleet vessels and coastal crafts while we are discussing regulatory aspects of commercial shipping which involves cargo carriers”, emphasized Vitaly Klyuev.

“It is the paradigm of the legal framework, technological developments and economic benefits for ship owners under which autonomous ships are to appear”, summarized Vitaly Klyuev.

IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) session scheduled for May 2020 was to finally approve the conceptual framework and outline the principles of further regulatory work. It had also been planned that specifics related to autonomous ships will be covered by 90% of IMO instruments throughout the year of 2020. However, the session was postponed indefinitely amid the ongoing coronavirus situation. As of today, Russia has informed IMO about the national legislation changes and ongoing autonomous ship trials.

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