In 2020, DNV and Nakilat launched a joint development project (JDP) to improve vessel software reliability and quality. The project has resulted in the launch of a DNV Recommended Practice (DNV-RP-0582).

Nakilat, a global leader in energy transportation, teamed up with the classification society, leading shipyards and various system suppliers to address issues surrounding critical vessel functions. Today, such functions rely heavily on computerised, software-based systems that are becoming increasingly complex, automated and integrated. Software failures or reliability issues can now result in significant safety risks, as well as lost revenue due to off-hire days.

To help address these risks, DNV and Nakilat brought together shipyards – DSME, Hudong, HHI and SHI ­­– with system suppliers including ABB, Honeywell, Kongsberg and Wartsila, to contribute to the development of the RP.

Nakilat ceo, Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, said: “With one of the largest LNG shipping fleets in the world, we are intimately aware of the importance of information technology (IT) integrity in ensuring safe, sustainable and reliable vessel operations.

“With the experience gained from completing our own fleet-wide digitalisation exercise, we are pleased to be partnering with key players in the industry to share our insights and contribute towards the improvement of vessel IT and computerisation reliability and quality. The newly published RP will act as a key enabler for the safe implementation of new digital technologies onboard, helping other vessel managers and owners to mitigate the risks of digitalisation while improving the safety of the crew, environment, vessel and cargo.”

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, ceo of DNV Maritime, added: “Our recent white paper highlighted an emerging safety gap in shipping rooted in the rapid digitalisation of the industry and the increasingly complex onboard systems of modern vessels.

“Addressing these emerging risks is essential to our mission as a classification society, but it requires a collective effort. This is why we are very pleased that there is such a strong industry participation in this project, as it further underlines the growing importance of this topic. The RP is designed to help owners and operators deal with software in the same way they would machinery or other physical systems onboard and with the RP now available, we hope to see this implemented soon in both newbuildings and the existing fleet.”

The RP provides guidance on the handling of complex software and computer-based systems throughout a vessel’s life cycle. The RP may be used as a contractual element/requirement in newbuilding or conversion projects, and/or as guidelines for suppliers, system integrators and owners/operators to check compliance and the ongoing status of systems.

The RP can also assist in establishing maintenance plans, service level agreements and life cycle warranties for software, provides a process to assess project timelines and risks, including alignment across sister vessels, and provides recommendations to increase the interoperability of software and systems to vessels at both the newbuilding and operational phases.

DNV-RP-0582 can be seen in full here.