Houlder is collaborating on an autonomous vessel project with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

As the first major autonomous vessel review work commissioned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the project marks a watershed moment for smart shipping, according to Houlder’s statement.

The review work was a collaboration with Robosys, an advanced robotics technology company specializing in the design and operation of autonomous systems for the maritime industry, and Holman Fenwick Willian International LLP (HFW), an international law firm offering entrepreneurial solutions in maritime transport and in all international trade.

The consortium, led by leading naval engineering consultants Houlder, worked with MCA to identify regulatory gaps and barriers to the development of safe, secure and environmentally friendly autonomous and remotely operated vessel operations over 24m in length, which are also known as Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). The team reviewed existing UK primary and secondary legislation and international instruments to identify regulatory and safety issues, held a workshop to explore the key issue of MASS’s assistance to people in distress and answered questions keys by working with the MCA. The aim of the project is to explore how the operations of these vessels could be addressed in UK primary and secondary legislation and how existing legislation could be affected to accommodate MASS operations.

HFW provided maritime legal expertise and led the work on physical and cyber security legislation. Robosys brought its unique expertise in the operation and development of maritime autonomy to animate the workshop. Meanwhile, at Houlder, we have a track record of over 3,000 projects spanning newbuild design, refurbishments, specialist vessels and conversions, as well as offshore wind turbine operations, installation and mobilization. We used our extensive experience in complex maritime naval architecture projects to identify regulatory issues, coordinate and achieve the project objective.