Monday, November 27, 2017

Maritime Stakeholders Discuss Merchant Vessel Design, Emissions and Cyber Crime

Forum in China Looks at the Future of Freight and Passenger Vessels
Shipping News Feature
CHINA – WORLDWIDE – The Tripartite Shipbuilding Forum, which for some 16 years has provided an opportunity for representative stakeholders in the field ranging from ship owners and classification societies to shipyards and energy maritime recovery interests, has debated for two days some of the most pressing issues facing the maritime industry including emissions control of merchant vessels, cyber security and the future design of freight and passenger vessels.

The Forum has representatives from some of the major maritime bodies, the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), BIMCO, Intertanko, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and so on. Over 100 delegates agreed the industry needs to design ships differently and be more technologically innovative to reach world climate goals and counter the huge cyber security risks which some present have been focusing on of late.

The topics this year concentrated mainly on decarbonisation of ships, safe design and digitalisation, these issues being interlinked as they are all relevant to the creation of a more efficient seaborne transport system. The shipping industry urgently needs new ship designs, equipment, propulsion systems and alternative fuels to achieve the CO2 reduction goals established by the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the specific objectives to be established for international shipping by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as part of its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy.

It was agreed that the shipping industry needs to use all available technology to a much greater extent, and increase technological innovation to reduce CO2 emissions to the ambitious degree required by the international community. The Tripartite forum has therefore established inter-industry working groups with the aim of developing a better understanding of current R&D efforts for the new technologies needed by the shipping sector to realise its vision for zero CO2 emissions this century.

The critical importance of the safety of seafarers and the ships which they operate were also part of the meeting's agenda. There are increasing concerns that new regulations governing ship designs aimed at further reducing CO2 emissions could potentially have adverse effects on the safe operation of ships. One example would be any legal requirements that led to a further reduction of engine power. The concern is that ships could get into problems during bad weather if the engine is insufficiently powered, putting both the crew and the environment at serious risk.

As with the recent meeting in London, held under the auspices of the Marshall Islands Registry, it was agreed that the industry needs to adopt new methods and standards to create more resilient digital systems on board to reduce the threat of cyber attack, something the industry has recently seen cost Maersk alone around $300 million.

It was felt that a more ‘layered’ approach to a ship's digital system and greater segregation can increase safety, so that a single attack cannot readily spread to IT and other systems both on board the ship and ashore, and the Forum agreed, in advance of its next meeting in 2018, the industry partners represented at Tripartite will work together to develop new design standards, which will help raise the resilience of ships' digital systems and make them more resistant to possible cyber-attacks.

The organisations present at Tripartite also re-confirmed their ongoing collaboration towards industry self-regulation as an important complement to the statutory regulations developed by the IMO and the plans put in place during the session will be worked upon over the coming year and form input at next year's meeting, which will be held in the Autumn of 2018 in the Republic of Korea.