The British Ports Association announced the launch of a new initiative looking at the implications of autonomous shipping for UK ports and exploring what the future developments of shipping will mean for the sector. The initiative includes a call for evidence from interested parties.
As part of the initiative, the BPA is creating a new Autonomous Shipping in Ports Network and is opening a call for evidence from the wider maritime community on what ports should consider to prepare for receiving autonomous ships in the future.
This will feed into the BPA’s own MASS analysis as well as its discussion with industry partners through bodies such as the industry umbrella group Maritime UK.
"The prospect of seeing autonomous ships in UK ports is definitely on the horizon but there will be much to do to prepare ourselves. This includes the consideration for port and marine operations, regulatory frameworks, infrastructure and receptions facilities, land to vessel communications and vessel safety,"
…said Richard Ballantyne, the Chief Executive of the British Ports Association.
Except from issues relating to ports and harbours moving forward into autonomous maritime operations, the feedback will also help to support government initiatives in the UK such as Maritime 2050, the work of the Maritime Skills Commission and other innovation, sustainability and infrastructure projects.
In terms of the call for evidence, the BPA is asking interested parties to feed in information on the following topics, where relevant:
- How will autonomous shipping change the land-sea interface at and around ports?
- What physical and digital infrastructure will ports need to provide to receive autonomous vessels?
- Specifically how might autonomous vessels interface with VTS services/port control?
- What are the expected timescales – when will ports in the UK see regular autonomous activities around our coastline?
- What types of shipping activities could be the first to embrace autonomous shipping – e.g. short sea, bulks, unitised, passenger?
- What are the safety implications and how will risks be assessed and managed in ports areas?
- What, if any, new regulatory powers will ports need to consider to manage autonomous vessels?
- What are the legal and insurance implications of having autonomous ships in ports and harbours?
- What will this mean for people at ports and how might ports need to do to prepare their workforces?
- Are there other issues that should be considered including supplementary evidence?