Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2024

125 IMO’s Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping has begun a comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code, to ensure seafarer training meets future needs for safety and protection of the environment Photo: credit technologies present new opportunities for the shipping industry, for example by enabling it to simplify and automate processes and increase data and information exchange between ports and ships. However, technologies also introduce new challenges, so we must carefully consider how to use them and integrate them into the regulatory framework.” The IMO has mandated the use of multiple technologies over the years, says Yamada. He cites examples such as the Electronic Chart Display and Information System, which automates multiple processes to enhance navigational safety, and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, which uses integrated satellite and terrestrial radiocommunication systems to support ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship distress, urgency and safety communications. IMO members have also agreed on a “key strategic direction” to continue incorporating new technologies into the regulatory framework as they emerge and mature. “The IMO will balance the benefits derived from new technologies with concerns about maritime safety and security, cybersecurity, the environment, costs, and the impact on both onboard and onshore personnel,” explains Yamada. “We aim to be neutral and develop IMO instruments and performance standards without preference for one technology over another. We’ll also consider the needs of developing countries and small island developing states.” For example, the IMO is discussing how ship operators can safely and securely use automation and artificial intelligence technology. “In IMO discussions about developing a code for autonomous ships, there has been agreement on including the principle that software and AI systems must be trustworthy, safe and secure,” says Yamada. “We will also consider principles for the ethical use of AI from global bodies such as the United Nations, Unesco and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as well as other sources.” Keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation can be challenging, particularly because the IMO’s processes to develop and adopt new regulations are constrained by timelines set out in conventions such as SOLAS. “There are minimum timelines established in all treaties,” explains Yamada. “A proposed SOLAS amendment must be circulated for six months before it can be adopted, then it will be accepted 12 months later and enter force six months after that. This allows time to consider all views from member states and industry stakeholders, including seafarers and ship operators. “However, the IMO has proven itself many times as an organisation that can respond and adapt to new challenges. We can issue voluntary guidelines whenever there is an urgent need – for example when Costa Concordia capsized in 2012. On World Maritime Day in September, I invite the passenger shipping sector to reflect on the progress we’ve made since the current SOLAS treaty was adopted in 1974 and look ahead to a safer future.” “ Operators must never compromise on safety when it comes to protecting passengers and crew” Photo: IMO