MASS, Rely Upon the Reliable Results of Maritime experiment
Most maritime practitioners seem to consider the success of MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships) to rely upon the reliable results of sea trials of these novel ships. In this light, researchers on MASS are looking forward to seeing practical performance of MASS outside laboratories. Not MASS, but research vessels, have been paving the way.
IMO’s Interim Guidelines for MASS approved by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 101 session on June 2019, requires MASS trials to be conducted in a manner that is, at least, the same degree of safety, security and protection of the environment as conventional ships, with commensurate reduction measures against associated risks to be taken as low as reasonably practicable and acceptable.
Global Test Operation Status
The race to sea trials of MASS had been sparked in Northern Europe. Finland proactively amended its acts regarding sea trials on July 2018, so that this flag state can accelerate the development of MASS over its neighboring countries, Norway and Sweden.
Japanese commercial shipping firm, NYK, might claim their precedence of sea trials over other maritime competitors because this ship-owning company performed sea trials between Yokohama, Nagoya, Ashizuri, and Yonagunijima Island during September, 2019.
And Samsung Heavy Industries and SK Telecom cooperated to successfully pilot a model ship in Korea, in 2019.
Korea’s MASS, Harmony of Global Shipyards and Technology
In Asia, unexpectedly, South Korea’s maritime cluster with Big 3 shipyards seems to have taken rather economic, realistic and practical postures in venturing into the development of MASS.
That being said, paralleling with the U.K., Japan, Norway, and Finland, this slow starter will also likely tap into the existing shore/onboard equipment and technologies already developed under the E-Navigation projects as well as the 5G-based high connectivity networks provided by giant tele-communication companies in Seoul.
The combination of this global shipbuilders and state-of-the art communication technologies is believed to jumpstart sea trials of a Korean-version of MASS (e.g., probably, LNG-propelled, remotely controlled and lesser manned ships) in the near future.