As part of IMO’s work to ensure that its regulatory framework for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) keeps pace with rapidly evolving technological developments, the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS-JWG) held its second session (17-21 April 2023) at IMO Headquarters. A seminar to discuss legal issues concerning MASS preceded the session.
The MASS-JWG was established to address common high-priority safety, legal and facilitation issues regarding MASS following a regulatory scoping exercise to assess how existing IMO instruments might apply to MASS, and to identify any regulatory gaps.
Amongst agreements reached during the meeting were the need for a human master to be responsible for an autonomous vessel; that the master may not need to be on board but must have the means to intervene when necessary; and that a single Remote Operations Centre (ROC) must be responsible for a MASS at any one time.
The Working Group agreed to consider further matters including the conditions under which a master may be responsible for multiple MASS at the same time, and the roles and responsibilities of the crew of MASS.
An updated Work Plan was agreed, for approval by the three Committees.
The third session of the Joint MSC-LEG-FAL Working Group on MASS will be held 11-15 September 2023, with a Seminar on implications, challenges and opportunities of MASS operations for ports and public authorities on the first day, prior to the meeting.