Legal aspects of Autonomous ships

The thread Future of Ships has become too long and too diversified. Time to separate out the legal, security and operational aspects of autonomous, remote controlled or unmanned ships in the not too far future.

The first question is obviously; who is responsible if and when there are an accident or incident involving 3rd party?

Here is an article from Sysla today:

(Since it is probably by subscription only and in Norwegian, here is a Google translation):

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The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) completed a regulatory scoping exercise to assess future regulation of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS):

IMO may have completed their guidelines, but has the last words been spoken on the subject?:

lets see when the first one gets pirated and the salvor says abandoned

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That is what the new regulations will avoid.

PS> Pirates that is looking for hostages to take will be disappointed. So will the small time thief that sneak onboard to steal paint, tools and spare parts.

Autonomous ship already operating in US waters:

Is it also operating in International waters during the operation?

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The competition to be first to put an autonomous container ship into service is hotting up:

NOTE: It is still only for tests on short domestic service and fixed routes.

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Someone needs to inform Amy Thompson about the difference between a “massive ship” and a powered barge of something less than impressive dimensions.

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one-sea-white-paper-autonomous-terminology-final.pdf (

What about a crew that wants to steal the whole ship? Anonymously hack it; disable its navigation and control software; then as a “rescuer” performing “salvage” on the poor imperiled vessel, take possession of the vessel; sue the company for salvage award; profit.

Sounds like a nice plot for a movie.
Have you tried to sell it to Hollywood??

Need investors first. Great opprotunity to get in early Ombugee, just send me $10,000 on Venmo.

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Spotted in the port of Heroya (Norway) the YARA BIRKELAND recharging her batteries. Photo: Jan Simons ©

YARA BIRKELAND is to be the first fully autonomous container feeder. Currently she is still fitted with a navigation bridge because she is testing with a crew onboard but the bridge will be taken off after this year and then she will be operating fully autonomous. please find more info on

China is also launching autonomous container short sea service:

Appears to have a permanent bridge, unlike the Yara Birkeland, which is equipped with a temporary bridge during commissioning, but later to be removed.

One more World’s First:

Another electric and autonomous container ship being planned in Norway:


PS> Ekornes produce furniture for the world market. Their most famous product being the
“Stressless Recliner”:

A more professional Press Release from DB Schenker, Norway: