BIMCO is working on a charter party clause that will help the shipping industry deal with potential abuse by sanctions busters of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) which is mandatory for all ships to carry under SOLAS.
In general, AIS transmits data about a vessel including its identity and position. It should not be switched off or disabled at any time other than for very specific safety and security reasons permitted by the regulations, such as avoiding detection by pirates in high risk areas.
Following, in May 2020, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a shipping advisory on sanctions which recommended that the shipping industry should develop contractual provisions “in the form of an AIS “switch off” clause. The intention was that the clause would allow shipowners, charterers and operators to terminate work with any party that demonstrates “a pattern of multiple instances of AIS manipulation that is inconsistent with SOLAS”.
BIMCO expressed its concern that some charterers may, in their haste to be sanctions compliant, develop their own AIS “switch off” clauses that might expose owners to the risk of being terminated even when the AIS has been switched off for legitimate reasons, or the signal has failed to transmit or be received for reasons outside the owners’ control.
Therefore, the new BIMCO clause will address not only the use of the AIS during the charter party but also prior to the contract.
Concluding, it is reported that the clause BIMCO AIS “Switch Off” is scheduled to be published in May.