Norway joins North Sea autonomous shipping alliance

Norway has signed a new international cooperation agreement with the UK, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands to facilitate better alignment on the international operation of autonomous ships.

The purpose of the agreement is to simplify how autonomous ships operate in the North Sea, and to ensure that they remain compliant with individual countries’ national requirements and frameworks.

The agreement builds on an earlier North Sea autonomous shipping Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the UK, Belgium and Denmark in September 2023.

“The Norwegian maritime industry is far ahead in the development of autonomous solutions. The collaboration will create an arena for further development of efficient and safe solutions for autonomous operation, and will play an important role for our maritime companies in the years to come,” said Norwegian Fisheries and Oceans Minister Marianne Sivertsen Næss (translated from Norwegian).

The signatory countries have agreed to exchange knowledge and information on national activities in the field of autonomous shipping, and to follow a common approach to international MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships) operations where appropriate.

The deal covers requirements for autonomous ships operating in the North Sea basin, outside of national territorial waters, aiming to allow the different nations to agree on common technical standards for these types of ships while international regulations are still being developed.

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Rob O'Dwyer

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