According to an article published by Business Insurance, crewless ships projects are becoming a challenge for the insurance sector due to the complications of determining the risks that can occur at sea.
Among the challenges are included piracy, fire at sea and computer malfunctions.
According to Sean Woollerson, a London-based senior partner at JLT Specialty Ltd, the insurance sector is facing an unprecedented situation with autonomous ships:
“The insurance industry has been at the forefront of most pioneering projects now covering drones, satellite launches, satellites in orbit, test flights, remotely controlled underwater vehicles and a number of other automated products… But a vessel being operated remotely from onshore will bring unique challenges in the developing of a fully automated complex key component for the supply chain.”
According to the Royal Institute of Naval Architects, small unmanned vessels are expected to be used in three to five years, and those carrying heavier cargo will arrive in 10 to 15 years.
Among the benefits of using adopting this type of technology is the lack of human error. In Europe, the MUNIN (created by the Europe Commission to research the possibilities of unmanned ships) indicated an unmanned ship has one-tenth of a risk of a manned ship in foundering and collision. The analysis also unveiled that there would be a $7 million in savings over a 25-year period per ship in fuel use and crew supplies and salaries.
Andrew Kinsey, a former ship’s captain and now a New York-based senior marine consultant at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty S.E says that insurers need more data to find out the costs of covering an autonomous ship and suggested a scenario where several unmanned vessels would be chaperones by a manned vessel as a safe way to collect this data.
Photo: Unmanned ship designed by Rolls Royce.