International Workshop on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships and IMO regulations

International Workshop on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships and IMO regulations
14 May 2018
Speech by Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to IMO for this very important and timely meeting.

The topic under discussion is without doubt one of the most important items on the Maritime Safety Committee’s agenda later this week.

Just a few years ago, the idea of autonomous ships seemed a very distant prospect – like something from a science fiction movie.

But, today, we live in a time of great change – and when the pace of change is faster than ever before.

All around us, in every part of our lives, we are encountering radical new models for the way we live, usually driven by innovative digital technology or artificial intelligence.

This “digital disruption” will arrive in the shipping world very soon. The next 10 or 20 years will see as much change in shipping as we have experienced in the past 100 years. New concepts will revolutionise how ships are designed, built and operated.

I am certain that technology and data hold the key to a safer and more sustainable future for shipping. Thanks to new technology emerging in so many areas – such as fuel and energy use, automation and vessel management, materials and construction, shipping is entering a new era.

But technological advances present challenges as well as opportunities, so their introduction into the regulatory framework needs to be considered carefully. We need to balance the benefits against safety and security concerns and the impact on the environment.

IMO must be ready. Our challenge is to ensure that the benefits offered by these challenging technologies can be fully realised but without compromising safety, security or environmental protection.

I am greatly encouraged that IMO is taking a proactive and leading role in these new emerging issues. IMO is the only forum where forward-looking issues, like autonomous ships, can be fully discussed, and aired, and where the appropriate actions can then be taken.

I know you have a lot to get through, so let me once again welcome you to IMO and wish you a successful and fruitful workshop which, I am sure, will greatly help to inform the discussions at MSC later this week.

Thank you.