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UK launches Industry Code of Practice for autonomous vessels

Maritime UK has launched a new Industry Code of Practice for autonomous vessels.

Posted on: 16th November 2017

The Industry Code of Practice for the design, construction and operation of autonomous maritime systems was launched during the 3rd Conference held by the MAS Regulatory Working Group in Southampton.

Seeking to provide practical guidance for the design, construction and safe operation of autonomous and semi-autonomous vessels less than 24 metres long, the Industry Code of Practice will provide guidelines while the more detailed regulatory framework for autonomous systems is developed.

The Code will be updated as required when guidance from the IMO Regulatory Scoping Exercise is published, and as the MCA develops policies to meet the needs of forthcoming technological, commercial and regulatory demands.

The new Industry Code of Practice is designed to set initial standards and best practice for all those involved with the development and operation of autonomous systems. The Code will help shape new regulation as it develops.

Covering design, manufacturing, safety, communication and navigation through to training and skills, the Code makes a comprehensive contribution to the fast-moving world of maritime autonomy.

The UK Industry Code of Practice has been prepared by the UK Maritime Autonomous Systems Working Group. James Fanshawe, the group’s Chairman said: “I am very grateful to both Maritime UK and the Society of Maritime Industries for publishing this Code which follows the publication of the Industry Code of Conduct last year. These two documents provide clear guidance and information for all those engaged with the development and operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships. These are exciting times and it is very important that every step is taken to ensure safety for everyone at sea, whether in manned or unmanned vessels.”

David Dingle CBE, Chairman of Maritime UK said: “I’m delighted that this timely and comprehensive Code of Practice has been developed by industry, demonstrating the UK’s pre-eminent role in leading regulatory developments that benefit our global sector. This, added with our cutting-edge innovation and thought leadership, mean that the UK really is the world’s maritime centre.”

The Maritime Sector Deal that is being developed by industry as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy will include a significant focus on autonomy, in order to capitalise upon both the UK’s advantage within autonomy and new opportunities on the horizon.

The Code of Practice can be found at these links: www.maritimeuk.org/mas-cop

The UK International Marine Autonomous Systems Regulatory Conference 2017 was held at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton on 16th and 17th November.

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