Regulatory and legal frameworks recommendations for short sea shipping maritime autonomous surface ships

Ahmed, Yaseen Adnan and Theotokatos, Gerasimos and Maslov, Ilia and Wennersberg, Lars Andreas Lien and Nesheim, Dag Atle (2024) Regulatory and legal frameworks recommendations for short sea shipping maritime autonomous surface ships. Marine Policy, 166. 106226. ISSN 0308-597X (

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This study aims to provide recommendations for addressing the gaps in the existing regulatory and legal frameworks, including the international and national regulations, rules, and standards for developing Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASSs) for the Short Sea Shipping (SSS). The methodological approach consists of the following steps: analysing the characteristics of case-specific MASS and its operating areas for SSS; thoroughly reviewing the existing regulatory and legal frameworks to identify gaps; classifying the gaps based on severity levels (high, moderate, or low); assessing the outlook and usage of potential Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), and offering recommendations through four alternative approaches - interpretation, amendment, new development, or maintaining existing ones. This study deals with MASSs of various Autonomy Levels (ALs), retaining human involvement via consideration of Remote Control Centre (RCC). The obtained results for the use case demonstrate that 62%, 12%, 6% and 5% of the identified gaps pertain to SOLAS, COLREG, STCW and ICLL conventions, respectively. Moreover, 10%, 55%, and 26% of the gaps are categorised as high, moderate, and low severity, with 9% of the gaps addressable through proper justification without requiring amendments. Many of the moderately severe gaps can be mitigated by considering the use of KETs; highly severe gaps necessitate exemptions or bilateral/multilateral agreements, whereas low severity gaps require clarification or definitions amendments. This study provides insights to policymakers for systematically amending the frameworks and preparing the MASS code required for the design, testing and operation of the MASSs for SSS.