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- Gro Kibsgaard-Petersen

Norway contributes to shaping the future of shipping

The globally leading nations on autonomous maritime operations came together today for the very first time. They have now launched a cooperation to exchange knowledge and work towards common guidelines for future development. Norway takes part.

Today marks the start of a new, important international cooperation in reasearch and development on the future of shipping. Representatives from eight leading flag, coastal and port authorities met online to launch the MASSPorts cooperation (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships and Ports). MASSPorts is now a network formed by like-minded states and organisations to address the challenges and achieve alignment of standards for the trials and operation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) in ports. The countries represented are China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, and Singapore.

Norway has been one of the speerheads in the reasearch and development of maritime autonomy worldwide.
- It is quite unique how Norway has gathered both authorities, tech and maritime companies and reasearch environments to study possibilities and challenges on the matter, says Director General of the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Einar VikArset. 

- As early as in 2016 a forum for these stakeholders was formed: The Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS). This platform of cooperation has contributed to Norways leading role in this development, says Director General of the Norwegian Coastal Administration, Mr. Arset comments.

Today’s meeting represents a new and important step towards implementing MASS in national and international shipping. Norway is represented by both The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) and the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA).

Acting Director General of Shipping and Navigation in the NMA, Lars Alvestad, represented Norway in this initial meeting.

- The environment and new technological solutions within the maritime sector are a high priority for Norway, and it was natural for both the Norwegian Maritime Authority and the Norwegian Coastal Administration to engage in autonomy at an early stage. We have together played a key role in the establishment of three test areas for autonomous solutions in Norwegian waters as well as the establishment of the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships. The Norwegian Maritime Authority is also the first administration to deliver clear guidelines on how we can accept autonomous ships in national, commercial operations. 

- We are very positive about the international cooperation that is now being established and hope that we can share and acquire knowledge across the nations. We hope this will increase the focus on technology and autonomy globally and lead to standardized solutions which will make shipping greener and more efficient.

The network’s objectives are to:

a.           Develop detailed guidelines and conditions for MASS trials in port – MASSPorts members will regularly review and develop guidelines and conditions for MASS trials in parallel with the IMO and other competent international bodies [See Point C].

b.           Establish common terminology, form and standards of communication, ship reporting and data exchange to enhance inter-operability of systems across different ports - International transit of vessels involves calls at different ports where vessels interact with many stakeholders and systems. Vessels and ports must be equipped with infrastructure that have common terminology, form and standards for seamless operation.

c.           Facilitate port-to-port MASS trials – Facilitate MASS trials to emulate the international nature of shipping with the objective of validating the proposed guidelines and conditions for MASS trials, and the inter-operability of port-based systems. This allows the network to identify and address additional challenges of operating MASS at various ports.


Today’s event was joined by representatives from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), as well as International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) .

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