Autonomous Ships to Take the Spotlight at IMO Meeting

0
242

… As Star Bulk set to Strengthen Its Fleet with 18 Bulkers***

On May 16, the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) efforts on the regulation of autonomous ships will begin with the 99th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 99).

The MSC will begin looking at how the safe, secure and environmentally sound operation of maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) may be introduced in IMO instruments.

It is anticipated that a working group will be established to develop a plan of work and terms of reference for an intersessional correspondence or working group, according to IMO.

The MSC recognized at its last session that IMO should take a proactive role on this issue, given the rapid technological developments relating to the operation of ships in various autonomous/automated modes. The scoping exercise is seen as a starting point and is expected to touch on an extensive range of issues, including the human element, safety, security, interactions with ports, pilotage, responses to incidents and protection of the marine environment.

Commenting on the upcoming MSC 99, the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) said that the global industry needs international regulation to facilitate the use of autonomous ships.

“The first projects with autonomous ships have been launched and we have approved the first test sites in Denmark. In other words, development is rapid in this domain and it is crucial to bring the international regulation up to speed. That is why it is so important that the IMO will now begin to lay the groundwork for such regulation,” Andreas Nordseth, Director General of the DMA, explained.

In addition to autonomous ship regulation, MSC 99 will discuss maritime safety in the Arctic and the Antarctic as well as other issues.

The meeting will take place at IMO Headquarters in London from May 16 to 25.

In the meantime, Greece-based dry bulk shipping firm Star Bulk Carriers has entered into definitive agreements to acquire eighteen dry bulk vessels in two all‐share transactions.

Three of the units will be acquired from Oceanbulk Container Carriers for an aggregate of 3.39 million common shares of Star Bulk.

This transaction, expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018, remains subject to customary closing conditions. The three vessels are being constructed at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, with expected delivery dates in first quarter of 2019.

The remaining fifteen vessels will be acquired from Norwegian shipowner Songa Bulk. Star Bulk will issue an aggregate of 13.725 million common shares and pay USD 145 million in cash for the acquisition of all of Songa’s fifteen modern dry bulk vessels.

The cash portion of the Songa consideration will be financed through proceeds of a new five‐year capital lease of USD 180 million with China Merchants Bank Leasing with a margin of 280 bps, thus offering approximately USD 35 million of additional liquidity for Star Bulk.

Expected to close by the third quarter 2018, the Songa transaction remains subject to the approval from the general meeting of Songa with a 2/3 majority of the votes cast and other customary closing conditions.

With the closing of the Songa transaction, the company intends to apply for a secondary listing of its common shares for trading on Oslo Børs, a regulated stock market operated by Oslo Børs ASA of Norway.

WMN.