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BIMCO and CIRM propose maritime software standard Featured

(l-r) Richard Doherty, CIRM, and Aron Frank Sørensen, BIMCO, mark the launch of the standard (l-r) Richard Doherty, CIRM, and Aron Frank Sørensen, BIMCO, mark the launch of the standard

BIMCO and the international association for the marine electronics industry, CIRM (Comité International Radio-Maritime), have sent a proposal for an industry-wide standard for software maintenance to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with the aim of making ships safer, preventing cyber security problems and saving on costs.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}IMO is expected to consider the software maintenance standard for shipping at its NCSR meeting in February 2018.

“We hope the entire industry will adopt these standards,” said Angus Frew, secretary general and CEO at BIMCO.

“The industry has been living in a world of hardware. But software has been integrated into most physical equipment on the vessels, and the systems and procedures to manage the software has not kept up with technical developments, and it creates problems.”

BIMCO says it has seen multiple incidents demonstrating the potential consequences of digital incompatibility, where ships have, for example, suffered complete blackouts and malfunctions in radar and other related systems as a result of unforeseen difficulties with a software update.

The goal of the organisations’ Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment is to make sure software updates happen in a secure and systematic way, to increase the visibility of the software installed on board, ensure the effective planning of maintenance and ensure effective communication between the different parties involved in maintaining the software.

The standard requires the user to have a complete list of the software versions that are currently running on the ship’s equipment, and ensures that all equipment can display the current software version. It also means that ships can do a complete roll-back to a previous software version if an update goes wrong.

The proposed standard also contains an identification of the various roles involved in maintaining software (producer, system integrator, data provider, service and shipowner), a procedural flow for maintenance and an outline of the requirements and responsibilities of the five roles.

The industry standard was created over a four-year period in collaboration with several industry stakeholders, such as BP Shipping, Maersk Line and Emarat Maritime.

BIMCO and CIRM say that they would like to see the standard be adopted by ISO, to make it more robust, with ISO having already provisionally accepted the proposal. BIMCO expects a work group to complete the standard in 2021.

“It is our hope that BIMCO members will use suppliers who use this standard and that the shipowners will adhere to it as well, for example by ensuring that there is an updated software log on board,” said Mr Frew.

The document outlining the standard is available on both the BIMCO and CIRM websites.{/mprestriction}

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