Marine Data Technologies Seminar

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Solis Marine Consultants in Association with Reed Smith and Maritime London

In association with Reed Smith LLP and Maritime London, Solis Marine Consultants celebrated Mayday this year by hosting a half-day seminar looking at current and future trends, developments and uses of marine data technologies. Primarily focussing on the use of vessel tracking via AIS data in loss prevention and casualty investigation, the seminar also considered its use in economic modelling and as a key driver in the development of autonomous vessels.

Held at Reed Smith’s London office, and with Maritime London helping to organise the day, the event attracted a cross section of delegates from the shipping, marine insurance, maritime legal and marine data sectors. The seminar began with a welcome address from Solis Senior Partner Captain John Simpson and Richard Gunn, Partner and mariner from Reed Smith , before getting underway with the first of three presentations, with each presentation leading into a panel discussion with questions from delegates.

The opening presentation of the Seminar, on Electronic Navigation Data from Initial Investigation to Litigation, was given by Duncan Campbell who is a Naval Architect at Solis Marine Consultants Singapore office. Duncan described the various sources of data used in marine investigation with particular focus on AIS and VDR evidence. Duncan explained the process of decoding data to provide animated reconstructions and demonstrated how this then allowed for further analysis to be made. Duncan used recent cases to show how data reconstruction is used to analyse collisions, allisions and groundings, unsafe port claims and reef damage claims. An interesting case study, of a collision between a tanker and a tug in an anchorage, showed that the original video evidence of the collision was contradicted by the data that was later used to provide a reconstruction of the events. Duncan discussed how data can now also be used for vessel traffic analysis, with an example given of 12 hours of AIS data for the Singapore Strait showed how a temporary traffic separation scheme, had been effectively deployed after a large vessel sank.

Richard Gunn opened the panel discussion that followed with his take on the use, and current acceptance, of AIS data and reconstruction in legal proceedings. Paul Amos, Senior Claims Handler at The London P&I Club, commented on the effectiveness of AIS data in assisting P&I Club Members to review incidents following a potential claim, and the issues that this raised. Duncan Campbell joined the panel and outlined the envisaged future developments in data use in investigations and explained the methods used to ensure the integrity of the data provided to Courts. The moderator for the opening session of the seminar, which included a lively exchange of views from the panel and the attending delegates, was Captain Richard Meikle, General Manager of Solis Marine’s London office.

The next presentation of the afternoon was given by Mark Williams, Managing Director of Shipping Strategy. Under the heading of Big Data Mark looked at the use of AIS vessel traffic data in particular to assist in both economic modelling within the freight market and with risk analysis primarily within the marine insurance sector. Mark looked at traditional methods of market modelling and risk-analysis and explained how both were changing rapidly to reflect the greater use and availability of data. Joining Mark on the panel to discuss his presentation and to look at how underwriters could use vessel tracking data in risk analysis and some of the challenges they may face, and to consider the wider question of economic modelling using AIS data, were; Philip Thomas, Partner within the IP, Technology and Data Division at Reed Smith; Tom Owen, Managing Director and Founder at MariTrace; and Nick Taylor, Underwriting Director within the International Division at The Standard P&I Club. Nigel Clark, Solis Marine Consultants’ Chairman moderated this session. During their discussions the panellists debated the potential for real time risk analysis which would allow underwriters to alter premiums during a voyage, data protection issues, the difficulties associated with a ship’s AIS system being switched off – or even “spoofed” – and how, via AIS, interested parties can track the movements of cargo and commodities to inform investment and trading decisions.


The third and final presentation of the day was given by Simon Hindley, Managing Director of Solis Marine Engineering, the design and engineering arm of Solis. Simon concentrated on providing an overview of the Current Status of the Autonomous Vessel Industry in the UK and discussed how the use of tracking data was being used to assist with innovation in that sector. Simon focused on the technical issues of determining the level of autonomous control that certain vessel types might have and how that was challenging operations, the Classification Societies and the insurance market. Simon was joined by a panel comprising; Dan Hook, the founder and former Managing Director of L3 ASV who has worked with autonomous vessel data at the sharp end; Captain Richard Meikle, the General manager of Solis Marine’s London office who provided his practical vessel command and accident/incident investigation experience; Britt Pickering, the Claims and Legal Director at Shipowners P & I Club, who outlined the perspective of insurers of autonomous vessels; and Marcus Dodds, a Partner and mariner at Reed Smith who was able to draw together some of the legal issues that will be encountered and discuss how they might be addressed. The moderator for the session was Captain John Simpson. A lively debate followed the talk with many questions from the floor which kept the panel on their toes addressing topics including manning afloat and ashore, training, the level of automation for various ship types, how they are insured and some of the legal issues that might arise.

John Simpson wrapped up the seminar by thanking Reed Smith for their hospitality in agreeing to hold the seminar in their offices, and Maritime London for their help in organising the day as one of their events. Presenters, panellists, moderators and delegates then continued their discussions for some time while enjoying a glass or two of something refreshing.

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