The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and Comité International Radio-Maritime (CIRM) have submitted a proposal for an industry-wide standard for software maintenance to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Without an industry-standard, BIMCO sees an increasing risk of severe incidents on ships, delays and costs to shipowners and cyber security problems.
"We hope the entire industry will adopt these standards, to make ships safer, to prevent cyber security problems and to save money," says 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," adds added Frew.
The goal of the standard on software maintenance of shipboard equipment is to make sure software updates happen in a secure and systematic way. It should is hoped that it will 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 what the software versions 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, which will enhance safety.
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 entire standard is available on the BIMCO's and CIRM's websites.