The Future Autonomous at Sea Technologies (FAST) Cluster brings together leaders and experts in the field of autonomy at sea in a diverse triple helix cluster (Industry, Academia, & Government), with a mission to inspire collaboration to champion and grow the autonomy sector. The Surface Autonomy Subgroup works on behalf of its members to engage with different professional bodies to further the development and implementation of mini-Marine Autonomous Surface Ships (mini-MASS). 

The subgroup has engaged with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on matters of mini-MASS to provide 1st hand insight into the blockers which current legislation is having on this growing industry. 

The group specifically worked on the new proposed Workboat Code Edition 3 Remotely Operated Unmanned Vessel (ROUV) Annex which is due to go live in November 2023. Feedback during the consultation process incorporated an independent analysis of 16 in-service ROUVs ranging from 0.7m to 15m taken from 7 different operating organisations across the FAST Cluster. Overall, the fleet was 71% compliant with Annex, however further work was identified and the subgroup work demonstrated that the MCA needed to consider vessel size and speed, mode of operation (i.e. line of sight/over the horizon) and area of operation (i.e. busy harbour vs open ocean) as a minimum before bringing the annex into law. 

This presentation will cover the work undertaken and the proposal given to the MCA for review.  


James Williams

James Williams is the Co-founder and CEO of Unmanned Survey Solutions which design, build and operate Unmanned Surface Vessels. He has an MSc (with distinction) in Hydrography and over 25 years of industry experience.  

James is passionate about innovation and the environment and leads a team of enthusiastic professionals who are using their expertise to bring new products and solutions to the offshore industry to reduce carbon emissions for the better of all. 

James is also the chairman of the Autonomy Sub-group of the FAST Cluster. This group has been brought together to provide a voice to industry on matters related to mini-MASS.