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03 Aug 2023

Takeaways from Stephenson Harwood's MASS at Moorgate 2022


On 18 October 2022, Stephenson Harwood hosted the inaugural MASS @ Moorgate in its London office. The event brought together over 50 owners, operators, charterers, insurers, financiers, port owners, wind farm developers, lecturers and parties considering entering the autonomous vessel sector to discuss the key issues, solutions, and opportunities in the sector – all on a Chatham House Rules basis.

In this article, we reflect on the eight key practical takeaways for the sector that emerged from the event.

  1. Owner / operators: trust in owners / operators of autonomous vessels will come from time and exposure to different operating conditions. Increasing the number of wind farm test sites presents an ideal opportunity to build this trust in a semi-controlled environment.
  2. Risk management: risks relating to autonomous vessels, when sensibly presented by owners / operators, with an element of mitigation and local knowledge, can be managed and/or insured.
  3. Insurance: presently, there are insurance products available for autonomous vessel operators. That said, having an insurable autonomous asset would still depend on the presence of the same factors as for traditional vessels: 1) a competent master; 2) a clear hierarchy of supervision; and 3) technical soundness.
  4. Financing: investors, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders would benefit from a clear regulatory roadmap to better understand the autonomous market of the future.
  5. Regulation: it was predicted at MASS @ Moorgate 2022, that regulators would ultimately benefit from working with their international counterparts and academics – as well as industry – to better form a roadmap for the future.
  6. Technological developments: the sector would welcome an anonymous forum within which to share difficult operating scenarios and learning moments to accelerate technological developments.
  7. Equipment: developments in equipment technologies must follow customer demand. Keeping the information flow from customer to the providers is key.
  8. Cyber security: 90% of all cyber incidents arise from human error.

Please call or email Cathal Leigh-Doyle and Suraj Saggar if you wish to discuss Stephenson Harwood's marine autonomy practice, or our MASS @ Moorgate event.