BIMCO and CIRM send software standard proposal to IMO for consideration

BIMCO and Comité International Radio-Maritime (CIRM) have sent what BIMCO called “the industry’s first proposal for an industry-wide standard for software maintenance” to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration.

BIMCO said that, without an industry-standard, it saw an increasing risk of severe incidents on ships, delays and costs to ship owners and cyber security problems.

BIMCO secretary general and CEO Angus Frew said that “we hope the entire industry will adopt these standards, to make ships safer, to prevent cyber security problems and to save money”, adding that the industry had been “living in a world of hardware. But software has been integrated into most physical equipment on the vessels, and the systems and procedures to manage the software has not kept up with technical developments, and it creates problems”.

BIMCO said that the goal of the Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment was to make sure that software updates took place in a secure and systematic way.

The standard requires the user to have a complete list of what software versions are currently running on the ship’s equipment, and ensures that all equipment can display the current software version. It also means that ships can do a complete roll-back to a previous software version, should an update go wrong.

The proposed standard contains an identification of the various roles involved in maintaining software (producer, system integrator, data provider, service and ship owner), a procedural flow for maintenance and an outline of the requirements and responsibilities of the five roles.

BIMCO said that the industry standard was developed over a four-year period in collaboration with several industry leaders, including BP Shipping, Maersk Line and Emarat Maritime.

BIMCO and CIRM said that they hoped the standard would become an ISO-standard, to make it more robust, and noted that ISO had provisionally accepted the proposal.

BIMCO said that it expected a work group to complete the standard in 2021.