Houston - The three challenges confronting ABS, the American Bureau of Shipping, are the same major issues that shipping faces currently. “And on these fronts, we are ready, and we want the industry to be prepared as well”. Cathy Mann is Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications at ABS. The first of the three challenges is cybersecurity: “We have been working on this front and we are continuing to do so, including on projects in collaboration with the US government,” she explained, “The risk of attacks on both the operational and control phases of systems requires attention. Current trends show that progress in the shipping industry is uneven and companies often do not know how to respond to emergencies.”
The emergency, according to the ABS manager, is that “the industry needs better knowledge of the risks and a greater understanding of the systems.” The American registry is focusing on prevention “in part because with appropriate training and practice, supported by specially created checklists, the risk of attack can be anticipated.” The second chapter remains to be written, but shipping is already being shaken up: “The industry should not be frightened by remote-controlled ships. It’s evolution. And the human factor remains important, even on board ship,” Mann explained.”
Any progress in this field of semi-autonomous ships must be rigorously verified. Multiple sensors and constant monitoring make it possible for a unit to become a smart asset. There will be an increase in the quantity of data used and exchanged, and this will bring us back to the issue of cybersecurity. Of course, it will be necessary to see what the reactions from various countries will be to this sort of innovation.” Then there is the environment: the 2020 dateline, when the increasingly stringent standards on emissions from marine fuels will come into force.
“Shipping faces a challenge that will force it to change. There are three ways to meet the new standards: using scrubbers, preparing to use LNG in advance, or using low-sulphur-content fuel. We believe that for older units the latter will be the preferred option.” It is a time of technological innovation that will allow us to seize new opportunities. In maintenance and control, ABS has decided to use drones as well: they allow for better analysis of possible damages reported by a ship and they inspect better than human eyes can. Even in terms of quality of work and maintenance, operations can be carried out remotely. And then there’s a reduction in costs...” Safety remains an important issue for ABS, which had zero serious workplace accidents in 2017.