International network aligns on autonomous vessel standards for ports

Representatives from a group of eight international flag, coastal and port authorities in Europe and Asia have come together to launch the MASSPorts initiative, a network of states looking to align on standards for the operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) in ports.

The group held a virtual event on 4 August, 2020, to mark the launch, with China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore all represented.

The event was also joined by representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), as well as the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).

The goal of the MASSPorts network is develop detailed guidelines and conditions for MASS trials in ports, built around a common framework that is agreed by all members and aligns with IMO’s interim guidelines for MASS trials.

This would include establishing common terminology, forms and standards of communication, as well as harmonising ship reporting and data exchange to enhance the interoperability of systems across different ports.

The group also aims to facilitate an increasing number of port-to-port MASS trials that will more accurately emulate the international nature of shipping and provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the validity of the proposed guidelines by testing an autonomous vessel’s ability to interact with different port-based systems.

“Autonomous navigation is an important part of our plans to be a future-ready port. We see MASS having the potential to enhance navigational safety and increase productivity,” said Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

“We are glad to work with like-minded international partners who are aligned in shaping the future of international shipping.”

Members of MASSPorts

  • China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA)
  • Danish Maritime Authority (DMA)
  • IMO High-Level Representative of Ministry of Transport and Communications, Finland
  • Maritime Bureau, Ports and Harbours Bureau, Japan Coast Guard, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)
  • Port of Rotterdam Authority (POR)
  • Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA)
  • Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA)
  • Smart Shipping & Logistics Division of the Minister of Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea
  • Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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