The shipping industry needs to design ships differently and be more technologically innovative to reach world climate goals and counter cybersecurity risks, it was agreed at the annual Tripartite Shipbuilding Forum.
At the meeting in Nantong, China, held on November 1-3 and hosted by China Classification Society, the forum reached several general conclusions on ship design and technology.
This year’s themes were decarbonization of ships, safe design and digitalization. These issues are interlinked as they are all relevant to the creation of a more efficient seaborne transport system, BIMCO, ICS, INTERTANKO, OCIMF, IACS, ASEF and SEAEurope said in a joint statement.
At the end of two days of debate, it was concluded that the industry urgently needs new ship designs, equipment, propulsion systems and alternative fuels to achieve the CO2 reduction goals established by the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the specific objectives to be established for international shipping by the UN IMO as part of its GHG reduction strategy.
It was agreed that the industry needs to use all available technology to a much greater extent, and increase technological innovation to reduce CO2 emissions to the ambitious degree required by the international community.
The Tripartite forum has therefore established inter-industry working groups with the aim of developing a better understanding of current R&D efforts for the new technologies needed by the shipping sector to realize its vision for zero CO2 emissions this century.
The participants hope that the general understandings reached at the meeting will send an important signal to all industry stakeholders about the vital role that everyone must play to deliver the continuous improvement of shipping’s environmental performance now demanded by global society.
The critical importance of the safety of seafarers and ships which they operate were also part of the meeting’s agenda. As explained, there are increasing concerns that new regulations governing ship designs aimed at further reducing CO2 emissions could potentially have adverse effects on the safe operation of ships.
One example would be any legal requirements that led to a further reduction of engine power. The concern is that ships could get into problems during bad weather if the engine is insufficiently powered, putting both the crew and the environment at serious risk.
Moreover, recent cyber attacks have increased awareness of potential threats facing the industry. When it comes to ship design and construction, it was generally agreed that the industry needs to adopt new methods and standards to create more resilient digital systems on board. A more layered approach to a ship’s digital system and greater segregation can increase safety, so that a single attack cannot readily spread to IT and other systems both on board the ship and ashore.
The Tripartite forum agreed that in advance of its next meeting in Korea in 2018, the industry partners represented at Tripartite will work together to develop new design standards, which will help raise the resilience of ships’ digital systems and make them more resistant to possible cyber-attacks.
The organizations present at Tripartite also re-confirmed their ongoing collaboration towards industry self-regulation as an important complement to the statutory regulations developed by IMO.