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Emissions, safety, cyber security top agenda at shipbuilding forum

The Tripartite Shipbuilding Forum, which brings together shipowner associations, classification societies and shipyards, saw some 100 delegates at its annual meeting in Nantong this year and saw carbon emissions, safety and cyber security coming to the top of its agenda.

The two-day forum hosted by China Classification Society reached general conclusions on ship design and technology and agreed that the industry needs to design ships differently and be more technologically innovative to reach world climate goals and counter cyber security risks.

The shipping industry urgently needs new ship designs, equipment, propulsion systems and alternative fuels to achieve the CO2 reduction goals established by the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the specific objectives to be established for international shipping by the UN IMO as part of its GHG reduction strategy, the forum agreed.

To achieve this, the shipping industry needs to use all available technology to a much greater extent, and increase technological innovation to reduce CO2 emissions to the ambitious degree required by the international community.

The Tripartite forum has therefore established inter-industry working groups with the aim of developing a better understanding of current R&D efforts for the new technologies needed. 

At the same time, the critical importance of the safety of seafarers and the ships which they operate was also emphasised amid increasing concerns that new regulations governing ship designs aimed at further reducing CO2 emissions could potentially have adverse effects on the safe operation of ships.

Finally, after a spate of recent cyber-attacks, there has been an increased awareness of potential cyber-threats facing the industry and the need to adopt new methods and standards to create more resilient digital systems on board.

A more layered approach to a ship’s digital systems and greater segregation can increase safety, so that a single attack cannot readily spread to IT and other systems both on board the ship and ashore.

It was agreed that before the next meeting in Korea next year, the industry partners would work together to develop new design standards, which will help raise the resilience of ships’ digital systems and make them more resistant to possible cyber-attacks.

For over 16 years, Tripartite has provided an opportunity for representative associations of shipowners, classification societies and to discuss contemporary issues related to design, construction and operation of new and future ships. Hong Kong Shipowners Association is a regular participant.

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