The Marshall Islands Quality Council (MIQC), an independent, consultative body consisting of diverse industry experts, met in London on 4 December. The MIQC provides advice and guidance to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry on topical matters, including current issues being addressed at the International Maritime Organization, and RMI Registry related updates.
Following the MIQC, a seminar and panel discussion moderated by Rear Admiral (RADM) Kevin Cook looked at the vital issue of seafloor marine casualty investigations. The audience heard how major advances in technology, particularly autonomous underwater vehicles, are allowing ever more complex sea-bed investigations to take place and driving down the costs of investigations.
The primary function of such investigations is to thoroughly investigate very serious marine casualties to determine any contributing causes and prevent them from occurring again.
Nearly 100 maritime and corporate professionals were in attendance, including about two dozen from the MIQC membership body itself.
The speakers included Andrew D. Bowen, Director of the National Deep Submergence Facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Captain Morgan J. Turrell, Deputy Director of the Office of Marine Safety at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The two expert speakers explained how enhanced satellite and data connections are allowing significant volumes of data to be sent from the investigation site directly to the shore-based teams.
“This ‘telepresence’ means that the investigators don’t need to be onboard the vessel in the same way as before and it won’t be too long before we have autonomous sea craft supporting investigations,” commented Andrew Bowen.
Bowen works with robotic systems as scientific research tools and has supervised a wide range of seafloor technology development projects, including the next generation of tethered vehicles for seafloor intervention, exploration, and investigations. Capt. Turrell is responsible for investigating major marine and aircraft casualties in the United States (US) and on US vessels worldwide. He led the NTSB’s investigation of the EL FARO sinking, including the retrieval of its voyage data recorder.
RADM Cook retired in 2015 after 36 years of service in the United States Coast Guard (USCG), where he regulated maritime industries and facilitated maritime commerce in the nation’s most intense region for shipping, petrochemical production, and offshore exploration and production. In 2016, he joined International Registries, Inc. as a maritime consultant.
A lively question-and-answer discussion followed the presentations.