Eight countries form autonomous shipping alliance

  • August 24, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Eight countries have formed a network to encourage the development of autonomous shipping. Named MassPorts, the network comprises the port authorities of China, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and Singapore.
“We are aware of the fact that conventional shipping will remain a reality in our port but we are also convinced that smart ships and even autonomous ships will be visiting Rotterdam as well,” said René de Vries, harbourmaster of the port of Rotterdam. “Smart ships need smart ports. Innovative co-operation between ports, the industry and shipping is key.”
The network is aiming at the development of infrastructure that has common standards and technology to allow easy interchange and use by autonomous ships using the ports of each of the participating countries.
The network is also planning port-to-port maritime autonomous surface ships (Mass) trials. These trials will aim to validate the inter-operability of port-based systems.
“Autonomous navigation is an important part of our plans to be a future-ready port,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. “We see Mass having the potential to enhance navigational safety and increase productivity.”
Several of the countries involved have already gained experience with trials of autonomous ships and port technologies to manage them, including Japan, Norway and South Korea.
“Autonomous technologies are without doubt part of the maritime future and we need to pave the way for the safe and efficient use of these new systems,” said Andreas Nordseth, director-general of the Danish Maritime Authority. “Cooperation is key to this, and I welcome the MassPorts network as a forum for the important international collaboration in this area.”