You are here

Philippines not keen on unmanned ships – stakeholders

Philippines not keen on unmanned ships – stakeholders

The use of unmanned ships or autonomous vessels at sea is being eyed in other countries, but not yet in the Philippines.

Vicente Suazo, former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator said the “tech -powered unmanned ship has a technology similar to drones that needs to be proven. How safely can you operate it, in this instance at sea?”

Suazo also pointed out that though the country always adapt to the changes in global shipping, the use of unmanned ships would definitely create a big impact on the country’s economy as a seafarer nation. The Philippines after all, is the crewing capital of the world, supplying more than half of the worlds global fleet requirements for crew.

“Once that is established and International Maritime Organization (IMO) can come up with regulations, then it would have an impact on manning business or the shipping company’s business,” he said in an interview.

Suazo is a senior consultant at NorthStar Shipping and Marine Services Inc., chairman at Glocal Enterprises Philippines and Port and shipping consultant at TMS Shipping Agencies Corp.

Suazo said should it be eventually allowed, the manning (industry) cannot force the issue.

“The eventual implementation of this domestically might be covered by certain legislation” he said.

“It’s still a long shot, yes, but it’s something that we can’t prevent to happen should all concerns are properly addressed and unless there will be a regulation to be promulgated by Marina and a law to be legislated to put control in its implementation to protect our seafarers,” he added.

Christopher Pastrana, chief executive officer of FastCat said there’s no vessel that is autonomous or unmanned in commercial use for passengers that he knew at the present that is being used anywhere in the world.

“We had a ferry summit in Amsterdam last month and the technology is not yet available for autonomous or unmanned vessel,” Pastrana said.

Reports showed that unmanned ships were being used in defense while others were being used in collecting ocean data for offshore energy sector.

IMO has included autonomous ships in the agenda on the next meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee. This, after countries such as Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and United States submitted proposals to address legal issues in the autonomous shipping.