BIMCO and CIRM propose standard for shipboard software maintenance

Richard Doherty from CIRM (left) and Aron Frank Sørensen from BIMCO (right) after finalization of text of proposed Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment Richard Doherty from CIRM (left) and Aron Frank Sørensen from BIMCO (right) after finalization of text of proposed Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment

DECEMBER 15, 2017 — BIMCO and CIRM (Comité International Radio-Maritime) have sent the marine industry's first proposal for an industry-wide standard for software maintenance for consideration at the February 2018 meeting of IMO's Subcommittee on Navigation, Communications, Search & Rescue.

The goal of the proposed Standard on Software Maintenance of Shipboard Equipment is to make sure software updates happen in a secure and systematic way. It should increase the visibility of the software installed on board, ensure the effective planning of maintenance and ensure effective communication between the different parties involved in maintaining the software. Keeping software up to date is also necessary to minimize hacking and malware problems.

Without an industry-standard, BIMCO sees an increasing risk of severe incidents on ships, delays and costs to shipowners and cyber security problems.

BIMCO Secretary General and CEO Angus Frew notes that the industry has been living in a world of hardware. But software has been integrated into most physical equipment on vessels, and the systems and procedures to manage the software have not kept up with technical developments.

BIMCO has seen incidents, where ships have suffered complete blackouts, and malfunctions in radar and other related systems, as a result of unforeseen difficulties with a software update.

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, if an update goes wrong.

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

The industry standard was developed over a four-year period in collaboration with several industry leaders, such as BP Shipping, Maersk Line and Emarat Maritime.

BIMCO and CIRM hope to see the standard become an ISO standard, to make it more robust. ISO has provisionally accepted the proposal.

 

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