News: Maritime UK launches Version 6 of Industry Code of Practice for Maritime Autonomous Ship Systems

By: Ben Murray

Chief Executive
020 7417 2837


Maritime UK is today (18 November) launching Version 6 of the Industry Code of Practice for Maritime Autonomous Ship Systems.

The accelerating pace of change in maritime autonomy has required updated guidance for those owning and operating Maritime Autonomous Ship Systems (MASS).

Whilst not a legal text, the Code has been used by manufacturers, service providers, and others as part of their day-to-day work. Many manufacturers have reported clients requiring compliance with the Code as a basis for contractual negotiations.

Version 6 adds updated guidance on a variety of topics including MoD Maritime Levels of Automation, MASS Shoreside Interface guidance and Remote Control Centre manning and operation.

The Maritime UK Autonomous Systems Regulatory Working Group (MASRWG) published the first Code of Practice to global industry-wide acclaim in November 2017, followed by annual updates since then.

Lloyd’s Register has supported the publication of this version of the Code.

Sarah Kenny, Chair of Maritime UK, said:

“I am delighted that we continue to produce such well-regarded guidance in this most rapidly growing of domains. For the UK, autonomy is a key driver of future growth opportunities and fuses our expertise across the sector - professional services, cutting-edge innovation and high-quality manufacturing and design. Autonomy is at the heart of key national missions like decarbonisation and the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

"The pace of change in accelerating, and as autonomy changes the way we live and work, this Industry Code of Practice serves as valuable guidance on certification, assurance and safety.”

Baroness Charlotte Vere, Maritime Minister at the Department for Transport, said:

“Autonomous vessels are set to revolutionise the maritime sector, by cutting emissions, bolstering supply chains, and easing pressure on our ports. With 75% of accidents at sea caused by human error, this technology will also help to dramatically boost safety.

“I’m delighted to see the guidance for manufacturing such vessels be updated – reflecting how quickly this remarkable technology is advancing.”

James Fanshawe, the MASRWG Chair, said:

“MASS development and operations continue to become an established part of the maritime scene. The Code of Practice provides the ideal focus to enable industry to develop ahead of the eventual international and national regulatory frameworks. Version 6 of the Code of Practice provides the platform for a variety of important updates with some new and revised guidance.”

Andy McKeran, LR’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“The accelerated uptake of autonomous systems and solutions provides a significant opportunity for maritime to increase safety and reduce operational cost. Clearly, as systems are adapted to the various levels of autonomy, it is fundamental that safety is assured at every stage. Lloyd’s Register is proud to continue to support Maritime UK with the latest version of its Industry Code of Practice for Maritime Autonomous Ship Systems which provides guidance on certification, assurance and safety.  We are confident that the Code will enable manufacturers, service providers and others across the supply chain to embrace future technology to reduce the dull, dirty and dangerous activities currently undertaking by workers, seafarers and operators.”

Maritime UK is also announcing details of the annual MASRWG Conference, to be held on 17 and 18 January 2023.