IWG on MASS – article for Newsletter 1/2023 – By Tom Birch Reynardson
The International Working Group on MASS has been requested by IMO to assist with legal input into the IMO joint working group (JWG) on MASS. The JWG is a working group set up by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), the Legal Committee (LEG) and the Facilitation Committee (FAL) in order to coordinate the work of IMO in tackling the regulation of MASS.
The IWG is preparing a paper which will cover 3 main subjects. First, the IWG will consider the re-allocation of the roles and responsibilities of the Master and Crew in the MASS context. This involves a consideration of the current roles assigned to Master and Crew, and will then consider the changing role when a ship is controlled from a Remote Control Centre, and then the role of the “Master” and “Crew” (if any) when the ship is fully autonomous and how the current responsibilities of the Master and Crew as regulated by IMO can be allocated in these new circumstances.
The paper will then consider the subject of enforcement and how the current regime may need to be adapted to accommodate MASS. Such issues as port state control, salvage, towage and pilotage, and arrest are being considered by the IWG.
The third issue which the IWG is considering is the question of liability. Who will be liable when an accident occurs in the various possible scenarios. What, for example, will be the situation where a ship with an AI steering system causes a major collision? Will the system manufacturer be liable, or the service company, or the Owner? Will liability to third parties be limited? These issues are complex, and precisely the kind of issues with which the CMI is ideally placed to grapple.
The IWG is aiming to produce a first draft of the paper in time for discussion at the IWG meeting at the Montreal Colloquium, with an aim to submitting it to IMO prior to the 3rd meeting of the Joint Working Group in autumn 2023.
Meanwhile. Tom Birch Reynardson attended LEG 110 where papers on the subject of MASS had been submitted by the United Arab Emirates, the Russian Federation, China and IFSMA. These were discussed at some length, but it was decided that the appropriate forum for these to be properly considered would be the Joint Working Group which meets from 17th to 20th April.
Various members of the IWG will be attending the JWG meeting including Tom, Robert Veal, Melis Ozdel and Edmund Greiner. Henrik Ringbom will also attend and he will be making a presentation on liability on day 1 of the meeting.
We look forward to meeting up with many at the meeting of the IWG at the Montreal Colloquium. For those who cannot attend we will live stream the IGW meeting on 14th June, commencing 9:00 Montreal time. Anyone who wishes to attend remotely should notify Tom Birch Reynardson.