Amelia Hansford

As vital shipping software becomes more complex, so does the potential for failure and vulnerability issues. These safety risks can result in major security breaches from hackers or lost revenue on off-hire days. In order to mitigate these potential issues, DNV and Nakilat initiated the JDP along with leading yards such as DSME, Hudong-Zhonghua, HHI, and SHI, and system suppliers ABB, Honeywell, Kongsberg, and Wärtsilä to help develop the mitigation schemes.



Photo by Rinson Chory on Unsplash



“With one of the largest 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,” Nakilat chief executive officer Eng.Abdullah Al-Sulaiti said. “With the experience gained from completing our own fleet-wide digitalization 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 computerization reliability and quality.”


Included in the JDP is a Recommended Practice (RP) that provides guidelines on handling complex software in critical vessel functions. This extends throughout the shipping vessel’s life-cycle, including design, construction, commissioning, and operation. Overall, the system is designed to ensure software reliability throughout vessel expeditions and journeys.


Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV Maritime, said: “Our recent white paper highlighted an emerging safety gap in shipping rooted in the rapid digitalization of the industry and the increasingly complex on-board 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.”


As well as ensuring cyber-infrastructure’s longevity on vessels, the RP is possibly able to act as a contractual element in building new projects or as a guideline for other suppliers. System integrators who use the RP when designing vessel functions could be able to check if newer systems are compliant with safety regulations by translating the advisory notes. 


It can also assist in establishing maintenance plans, service level agreements, and life cycle warranties for other software requirements onboard shipping vessels. Providing the abilities to assess project timelines and risks, the guideline can effectively revolutionize the way vessels handle software operations.


Cyber security remains a top priority for protecting ship functionality, as Al-Sulati comments: “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.”


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