Yes, an unseaworthy ship. And what’s more that will float very soon. On the occasion of its meetings dedicated to risk professionals, AMRAE had gathered a very qualified panel to discuss the digital risks applied to maritime transport. A great opportunity to talk about technology under a legal prism and insurance that brings out rather original issues.

In the first place, dematerialization. Julien Raynaut, Bureau Veritas’ Marine & Offshore Legal Director, presented the e-certificate, a solution recently launched by his company to digitize the certificates, documents essential to the resolution of all disputes at sea. No more paper: to sign a document an inspector will only have to affix an electronic seal; the document will be accessible via a simple QR Code. Everything is guaranteed by a trusted third party, in this case CERT Europe.
Decreasing the volumes of paper on board is not the raison d’être of the e-certificate: « it exists above all as a tool to protect against fraud and false documents, especially thanks to the action of the third party « he said. While recognizing that such a computerized system is not completely safe from a hacker.

A Digital Twin

Bureau Veritas has partnered too with Dassault Systèmes to offer its own « digital twin » service called Veristar. This process, more and more common in many industries, makes it possible to create an integral duplicate of equipment as complex here as a merchant ship, and to update this twin continuously relying on data collected on the real ship. The main application is predictive maintenance, which makes it possible to anticipate failures before they take place.

Since we are talking about ships’ digitization, we could also talk about the seafarers’ digitalization. Even if some shipowners are not claimants, autonomous ships will soon be a reality which poses many problems to the jurists. « Maritime law is currently based on the captain » explained Julien Raynaut. « What would happen, for example, if an unmanned ship was near a crewed ship in distress, and did not stop? « .

On Norwegian Waters

In the very near future, we will have to find answers to his questions. From 2018 Yara Birkeland, a fully autonomous container carrier, will sail on Norwegian waters. In 2018 and 2019, she will have a crew, but that will only serve for supervision, before disappearing permanently in 2020. An absence of sailors on board that made him qualify by Pascal Matthey, senior marine risk engineer at the insurer XL Catlin, as « innavigable therefore uninsurable ».

One could however imagine that a totally automated system, safe from human errors, would reassure the insurers. Except that, as explained by Pascal Matthey, « we do not have statistics on the number of accidents avoided by men ».

[Version française: E-fraude, jumeau et navire innavigable : bienvenue dans le transport maritime de demain]

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