Embracing the future of maritime autonomy

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Since it was founded in 1855, the Club has witnessed the seemingly infinite evolution of the shipping industry from sail to steam and beyond. Today, we are observing possibly one of the most dramatic shifts in recent times, as vessels transition towards autonomy. At the Shipowners’ Club, we embrace change. In April 2018 at our Autonomous Ships & the City seminar, we were proud to be the first P&I Club to offer tailored P&I cover for autonomous vessels. This policy forms one of our suite of ‘plain language’ policies designed to match the unique requirements of the sector. We have already underwritten a wide range of autonomous vessels and our book of business continues to grow.

To ensure that we understand and can fully meet our Members’ needs, the Club’s claims team have engaged, not only with members of the International Group, but also more widely with both industry groups and the UK Government. Of particular value, is our membership of the Industry Alliances Maritime Autonomy Regulatory Working Group. Within this forum we are delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead an industry working group focused on legal, insurance, business services and trading issues. This gives us an excellent insight into the key challenges faced by the sector and allows us to put forward solutions which will help to shape the future of P&I.

Recently, the Club spoke at the Maritime Autonomous Systems Regulatory Conference, alongside a number of high-profile industry figures. Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, opened the conference with a clear recognition that our maritime future will not look like our maritime past. The conference also identified, that the expertise that we have honed over generations in the UK, will allow us to lead in areas such as technological and environmental innovation. These ambitions underpin the Government’s recently published Maritime 2050 strategy.

As a mutual insurer, it is our fundamental responsibility to provide our Membership with expert advice and support in an ever-evolving seascape. Whilst this new sector emerges, our loyalty will remain with our Members in establishing the best outcome on claims and by helping to shape the future liability landscape. We will do this by continuing to actively engage with all stakeholders to ensure that the Club remains at the forefront of this sector.