News & Press: Maritime

IMO moves forward on e-navigation standards and autonomous ships

01 July 2019   (0 Comments)
Share |

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s latest Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) meeting took place from 5-14 June. The meeting concluded with the approval of new interim guidelines for autonomous ship trials, and guidelines on standardisation of the user interfaces and data exchanged by e-navigation systems.

The 101st session of the MSC considered a range of issues relating to the safe and efficient navigation of vessels at sea. Items discussed included the issue of ensuring safety in Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) trials; the committee reached agreement on a set of guidelines to be applied during tests of these technologies.

Within the guidelines it is noted that trials should be conducted in a manner that provides at least the same level of safety, security and protection of the environment as provided by IMO rules relating to manned vessel operations. Measures should be put in place to reduce the risks associated with the trials to the degree that is as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable.

MASS operators as well as any personnel involved in MASS trials, whether onboard or remote, should be appropriately qualified. When tests are being conducted, appropriate steps should be taken to ensure sufficient cyber risk management of the systems and infrastructure.

An intersectional working group is to be held in September 2019 to continue the ongoing work of considering how IMO rules and regulations may need to be adapted to address the use of autonomous systems at sea.

Once all of the relevant IMO instruments affected by this shift in operations are identified IMO will need to determine the most appropriate way of addressing MASS operations, taking into account the human element, technology and operational factors. Depending on the results of this analysis, this may require amendments to existing regulations or for new laws to be introduced.

The 101st session also saw MSC approve a circular on ‘Guidelines for the standardisation of user interface design for navigation equipment’. The aim of this circular is to promote improved standardisation of the user interface and information used by seafarers to monitor, manage and perform navigational tasks.

The guidelines, including icons, explicitly apply to Integrated Navigation Systems (INS), ECDIS and Radar equipment, and may be applied to other electronic navigation equipment, IMO says.

The MSC adopted amendments to the performance standards for the presentation of navigation-related information on shipborne navigational displays, with an implementation date of 1 January 2024 for shipborne navigational displays on the bridge of a ship (for radar equipment, ECDIS and INS). The implementation date for all other navigational displays on the bridge of a ship is 1 July 2025.

MSC also adopted a resolution on the definition and harmonisation of the format and structure of Maritime Services, including items like vessel traffic services and vessel to shore reporting, in the context of e-navigation.

The purpose of the guidance document approved at the meeting is to ensure that maritime-related information and data exchanged as part of different Maritime Services are implemented internationally in a harmonised, standardised and unified format. All Maritime Services should be conformant with the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) S-100 framework standard, IMO says, which specifies methods for data modelling and development of product specifications.

Details from

Please also see