Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Analysing the Need for Safety Crew Onboard Autonomous Passenger Ships – A Case Study on Urban Passenger Transport in Norwegian Waters

Even Ambros Holtea and Lars Andreas Lien Wennersbergb

SINTEF Ocean, Norway.


Today, the number of crew required to operate small, conventional passenger ships is often equal to the number of safety crew required to ensure passenger safety in emergency situations. This paper investigate whether it is possible to realize autonomous passenger ships and still maintain passenger safety as the number of safety crew is reduced towards zero. An important role of the safety crew is to manage emergency situations, and by that comply to the crew safety instructions in such situations. The safety instructions of two use cases have been analysed in terms of which tasks that is possible automate, and by that reduce the need for onboard crew. The analysis resulted in a classification of safety tasks that can be automated and those who appear more difficult and needs to be managed either by onboard safety crew or by a remote control centre operator. We argue that given the current technology gaps and short-term expected developments, there will still be a need for safety crew onboard autonomous passenger ships. We propose a definition for a safety responsible officer. Requirements are also derived for new developments of safety equipment that will be needed with reduced safety crew. The results of the study provide input to ongoing regulatory discussions where distribution of tasks between automation systems and humans on ship and in remote control centres are relevant.

Keywords: Ship autonomy, Passenger safety, Safety crew, Automation, Remote control center.

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