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IACS plans acceleration of digitalisation and decarbonisation work

Meeting again by videoconference, the IACS Council held its 83rd session (C83) in the wake of IMO’s MEPC 76.  Chaired by Koichi Fujiwara, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ClassNK, C83 recognised the pressure on industry to change fast in response to the twin challenges of decarbonisation and digitalisation and IACS’ parallel role in maintaining and improving safety as the maritime world utilises new technologies to meet its societal obligations.

Recognising that the power of digitalisation needs to be fully leveraged to support the global imperative of decarbonisation, and the cross-cutting nature of both work-streams, C83 agreed to an acceleration of IACS’ existing work program so that relevant outputs will be delivered in time to lead, influence and inform the decisions being made in shipowner and shipbuilders’ offices as well as in the IMO and other regulatory centres.

Concrete steps include the establishment of an Expert Group on the safety of new technologies and zero or very low carbon fuels; to develop high-level positions on these issues and possible related submissions to IMO, and a commitment to ensure that the short-term measures on GHG reduction recently agreed at IMO are capable of global and consistent implementation.

Building on IACS Information Paper on Remote Surveys, C83 also fast-tracked the development of an IACS UR or Recommendation for completion by October 2021 and reaffirmed its intention to engage deeply in discussions on a new output at MSC104.  Recognising the possibility of regulatory obstacles, C83 also expanded IACS work on modernising SOLAS, committing to submitting a paper to MSC105 highlighting the need for the regulatory regime to keep pace with new technologies and welcoming the engagement of other industry bodies in this work.

Noting that digitalisation can only be successful if cyber systems are secure, C83 also welcomed the progress toward the development of requirements for cyber resilience of on-board systems and equipment, the translation of Rec.166 on Cyber resilience of ships into an UR, incorporating the consideration of cyber risk into ISM and initiating discussions with industry on new proposals to IMO following the completion of its regulatory scoping exercise on Marine Autonomous Surface Ships.

C83 also saw Nick Brown, CEO Lloyd’s Register who was elected in April take up his position for what will be a 2½ year term.  Speaking to C83, he highlighted “the need for an even louder voice from IACS during this decade of rapid change as new technologies and new fuels need to be thoroughly understood and risks of adoption mitigated against”.

Noting the increasing calls for IACS to be more responsive, more visible, and more openly and proactively engaged on the big topics facing our industry, Brown continued ‘There is lots for IACS to do and collaboration with all industry stakeholders will be key to our mutual success.’  In this context, Brown paid tribute to  Fujiwara’s achievements in delivering the significant governance changes necessary to ensure IACS maintains its unique ability to both contribute to, and harmonise, diverse work streams and to also give institutional effect to new ideas and practices.  As he handed over the Chair, Fujiwara said “IACS response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its rapid expansion of remote surveys was vital in ensuring business continuity in shipping while maintaining high safety standards.  I hope that the agility displayed in this instance will be replicated elsewhere as the new governance changes start to take effect.  I am proud to leave IACS well-positioned to assist industry and regulators in meeting the many challenges ahead”.