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Safer and more efficient waterborne operations through new technologies and smarter traffic management

Specific challenge: Ensuring and enhancing the safety of waterborne operations is of high importance for the EU since past and recent maritime disasters, and accidents in inland navigation, have shown that accidents come with high costs in terms of loss of life, environmental damage, economic impact, and the overall image and public perception of the waterborne sector. Whilst the safe operations of cargo vessels remain a challenge to be addressed (also in the light of the increasing use of Northern sea routes), the significant and continuing growth in the size of cruise ships and the expansion of their operating areas to remote regions (and particularly difficult environments such as the Arctic) has created a new and increasing risk. More research is needed to develop and demonstrate innovative solutions for ship design and waterborne operations in order to avoid and mitigate passenger risks, ensure high levels of safety, whilst at the same time preserving increased passenger expectations of comfort and on-board amenities.

Enhanced or new technologies for maritime traffic management will be key for safer and more secure operations as well as to lower emissions, whilst supporting a more competitive maritime transport as part of an integrated transport chain. To reduce congestion in ports and port fairways, port traffic guidance systems need to be at the same time cost efficient and easily deployable. Synergies with existing systems should be ensured, with the aim of integrating the use of port traffic guidance tools by all relevant authorities and ensuring the full interoperability between Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) systems, which monitor vessels, freight and port services.

Scope: Proposals should address one or several of the following aspects:

      Safer shipping through innovative conceptual (hull, general arrangement) and detail designs (exterior and interior) of vessels and systems, and through a new approach to emergency response, to risk-based maintenance, and to the human factor.

      New safety devices and their demonstration, including new technologies and operational solutions for the evacuation of large passenger ships, black-out mitigation, fire proofing and making ships more salvage friendly.

      New and improved systems for the surveillance, monitoring and integrated management of waterborne transport and other activities (commercial and non-commercial).

      New and cost effective European Global Navigation Satellite System (European GNSS)-based procedures for port approach, pilotage and guidance, ICT-enabled shipping lanes and maritime services that will reduce the risk of accidents and incidents in port approaches and dense traffic lanes, and minimise both delays and turn-around times.

      For traffic management, solutions that support the extension, integration and optimisation of waterborne transport information and communication systems with the aim of contributing to build a comprehensive ""e-maritime"" environment (including e-Navigation components that are compatible with existing or emerging international standards). They should serve the overall objective of building the European Maritime Transport Space without Barriers allowing waterborne transport (including inland navigation) to be used to the full potential of the integrated intermodal logistic chain. Solutions should also provide the foundation for the deployment of autonomous and actively guided ships as well as the possibility to verify all related safety certificates before the vessel enters the port.

Inputs to EU and international regulatory regimes, standardisation and international research co-operation are expected for the above areas, in particular regarding safety devices and e-Navigation solutions.

In line with the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[1], international cooperation is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 4 to 9 million each would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: It is expected to:

      Achieve significant improvements in terms of navigational safety and efficiency (in particular emission reductions) along the entire waterborne transport logistic chain, and decrease administrative burdens.

      Facilitate the transfer of new safety concepts from passenger shipping to other areas of maritime operations.

      Show a statistically relevant decrease in the number of fatalities caused by maritime accidents, the number of ship losses and specific incidents such as fires or black-outs accompanied, where relevant, by operational empirical evidence.

      Support the upgrading of international maritime safety regimes through relevant inputs.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

[1]     COM(2012)497