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Russian Maritime Register of Shipping publishes autonomous vessel classification advisory

Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) has published Guidelines on the classification of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS). The recommendations provided in the document are underpinned by R&D and supplement the regular RS requirements relevant to the vessel’s class and purpose.

The scope of the new document covers a wide range of MASS as per level of human involvement in steering and system control as well as per navigation capabilities in open sea and in restricted space, such as passageways, ports, mooring areas.

The Guidelines address the survey of MASS under design and construction stages, conversion into MASS and manufacturing of materials and products for MASS. The focal areas include the situational awareness systems, radio and data communication, navigation and manoeuvring, propulsion.

The document also specifies the track marking and remote control center that play an important role in the MASS monitoring and safe navigation.

The RS recommendations feature a risk-oriented approach and the overriding principle is to confirm the target MASS and infrastructure safety level. The Guidelines provide for the detailed risk assessment criteria during design, construction, trials and operation of MASS and their infrastructure.

A concept of operations should be developed for each remotely controlled or autonomous ship and should contain the main particulars, operation conditions and principles, navigation parameters, protection from unauthorized access onboard measures, etc. High priority in MASS construction and operation is given to cybersecurity issues.

“Recent developments make the autonomous shipping viable with all its benefits such as fuel saving, emissions reduction, minimization of human error. The key to the safety are failure-free operation of systems and equipment as well as cybersecurity ,” noted Head of the RS Electrical Engineering and Automation Systems Department Vladimir Vikulin.

“RS Rules development strategy anticipates the emerging trends of the maritime industry. Today, we are ready to face the new challenges, including the regulation of highly automated sea craft and navigation cybersecurity, and to support the industry. The extensive implementation of high-tech solutions would, in its turn, give an impetus to further advancement of the RS Rules,” said RS Director General Konstantin Palnikov.

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