System-theoretic approach to safety of remotely-controlled merchant vessel

Krzysztof Wróbel*, Jakub Montewka, Pentti Kujala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Unmanned merchant vessels' prototypes are expected to come into operation within a few years. This revolutionary shift in the shipping industry is feared to negatively impact the safety of maritime transportation. Therefore, in order to support future designers of remotely operated merchant vessels system, we applied System-Theoretic Process Analysis (STPA), identifying the most likely safety control structure of the analysed system and investigating it. The aim was to suggest potential ways of increasing the system's safety and to assess the effectiveness of such measures. Results indicate that the implementation of remotely-controlled merchant vessels and, in a wider sense, unmanned ships, and ensuring their safety shall consist of executing various controls on regulatory, organisational and technical plains. Potential effectiveness is evaluated and some recommendations are given on how to ensure the safety of such systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-345
Number of pages12
JournalOcean Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Remote operation
  • Safety of transportation
  • STPA
  • Unmanned vessels

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