Tripartite Forum: Shipping Industry Prepares For Major Changes

In view of the forthcoming significant changes to ship design that is now being envisaged, the Tripartite Forum has recognised the opportunity to promote ship design being more focused around the ship’s crew; a concept known as “human-centred design”.

In simple terms, ships, onboard systems and fittings should be designed around people/crew, helping them to operate in a proper manner with higher efficiency, reducing the risk of human error and reducing the consequences of any errors that may still occur. Tripartite reached a consensus that this could in part be achieved by incorporating crew feedback into the new building design process.

It was agreed that future work on this subject should also involve manufacturers of marine equipment, systems and installations as well as representatives of the IT, automation and digitalisation industries.

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Working to reduce CO2 emissions
Tripartite continues to focus its joint efforts on finding the most efficient solutions to reduce CO2 emissions and to decarbonise shipping through innovation. This objective being a key driver leading to the anticipated changes in ships of the future. The Tripartite Forum agreed that the 2050 IMO targets will require significant changes in hull design, propulsion systems, fuel types and automation, but these will not be enough without an equivalent review and major changes to the current business/commercial models and logistics.

Further developments should strictly be based on a holistic approach. It should assess and understand the GHG intensity of alternative fuels and consider ships as part of a whole logistic chain. Other key elements are port optimisation and port efficiency. A holistic approach should assist in ensuring that further measures on GHG emissions reduction do not introduce market distortion. All these challenges can be assisted in being met by obtaining “good data” that would facilitate professional understanding and identification of optimum solutions to achieve IMO 2050 target.

Tripartite will work intersessionally to find ways to accelerate both technological and business model innovation, to further improve operational and technical energy efficiency, as well as the transition to zero-carbon fuels and new propulsion systems.

Ship safety to remain paramount
Whatever the changes, Tripartite remains firm that the safety of ships and crew cannot be compromised. Any measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions must be considered together with any consequential impact on ship safety. Decisions that lead to underpowered ships are unacceptable – and consequently, it was felt that the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee should at an appropriate point in the future address the minimum power required to keep ships safe under SOLAS. In the meantime, IMO should ensure that the minimum power guidelines it has developed remain in place and are fit for purpose.

Sulphur Cap on 1 January 2020
The introduction of the 0.5% Sulphur Cap represents a dramatic change for ship operations. A great challenge is that of preparing ships for use of the range of compliant fuels that are yet to be placed on the market, and ensuring that bunkered fuels which may be incompatible with each other are not mixed in the same bunker tanks. 2020 Sulphur Cap compliance requires significant planning and challenging decisions to be made in relation to fuel system design. Ship owners, class and shipbuilders must jointly define minimum standards on layout, volumes and performance of the onboard fuel systems.

Ballast Water Management Convention
Noting that the IMO’s Experience Building Phase (EBP) relating to the Ballast Water Management Convention has commenced and that the installation and use of ballast water management systems will increase significantly in 2019, Tripartite recognised the need for the members of the forum to gather, collate and discuss operational feedback relating to the implementation of the Convention in practice. For the purposes of possibly developing future industry guidance or industry feedback to the IMO, it was agreed to set up a related joint working group.


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