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New Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships Code

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01.01.2020

UK Industry Code of Practice November 2019 - V3

The primary aim in developing the Code has been to establish standards and best practice for those who design, build, manufacture - including testing and commissioning, own, operate and control Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) of less than 24 metres in length.

It will establish some principles and guidance which will also be applicable for those operating larger MASS.

The development of MASS has continued at a very significant pace over the last few years with more entering operation all the time. They come in a variety of sizes and have a very diverse set of operational capabilities which all place their own unique demands on those who own and operate them and the maritime community.

Version 3 of this Code of Practice has been prepared by the UK Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) and has been published by Maritime UK through the Society of Maritime Industries. It has been prepared in two parts. Part 1 is a set of Industry Conduct Principles. Part 2 is the Code of Practice.

The Code focusses on surface ships, seagoing vessels and watercraft (per SOLAS Chapter V – Safety of Navigation) but does include some references to other Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS), such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and Unmanned Air Systems (UAS).It is stressed that these systems have their own operating guidelines which are not replicated in this Code but may be deployed from MASS. 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 developments.

The term MASS has been adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their scoping exercise which was accepted at MSC 98 on the 13th June 2017. The MSC Working and Correspondence Groups started their work in May 2018 and there was an inter sessional working group meeting in September 2019. Other scoping exercises are being undertaken by the Legal (LEG) and the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) committees. Information concerning their work is available through IMODOCS.

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