The pandemic has underlined the importance of developing common requirements for the implementation of remote survey approach as an acceptable form of intervention in some circumstances to overcome the challenges of physical attendance surveys, according to IACS.
IACS had anticipated the use of remote inspection techniques (RITs), including drones and remote operated vehicles for ship surveys, from as early as the 1990s.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the need for remote survey approach without a surveyor onboard as in many cases surveyors could not access ships to physically conduct surveys. In response, IACS established a Covid-19 Task Force to identify and access measures that could be implemented in a coordinated fashion to help facilitate business continuity.
In fact, during the period January-September 2020, IACS Members completed slightly more scheduled surveys (annual, intermediate, and renewal) than in the same period for 2019; and of these, less than 0.5% were completed entirely by remote means (i.e. with no onboard surveyor presence whatsoever).
It is very likely that there will be increased and progressive development and adoption of remote surveys beyond the Covid-19 emergency situation as the benefits of advanced technology and greater flexibility in conducting surveys – while ensuring comparable quality and safety standards – are realized,
…said Jaehyeon Ko, IACS Survey Panel Chairperson, in IACS annual review 2020, issued last week.
In response to these trends, IACS established a Project Team in 2020 to develop common requirements for remote survey approach. Expected to be completed in 2021, this project is anticipated to form a solid foundation for the development of regulation for remote surveying, according to IACS.
The Project Team will consider diverse aspects such as:
- Equivalency between remote and traditional surveys with surveyor attendance.
- Impediments in existing IMO instruments and IACS Resolutions to remote survey and any inconsistencies which may exist in the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification Guidelines.
- Quality of information communication technologies, including connectivity and speed.
- Scope and detailed remote survey process.
- Evidence/documentation to be recorded and reported.