Software as an integrated part of components onboard vessels, as well as a component in its own right controlling essential systems of physical components (machines) is increasingly being used in vessels, because it promises more functionality, better cre w guidance, lower vessel building costs, lower cost of operation, as well as higher flexibility for future changes and upgrades.
Unfortunately, as the use of software onboard vessels is increasing, so are the risks associated with its use due to that ves sel operation is completely dependent on software. At present, there are quite few publicly reported incidents, where a failure is caused by software malfunction. However, the actual incidents caused by software faults are nevertheless there:
o In 2002, in bad weather, a 100 meter vessel started moving, without being possible to manoeuvre from the bridge. Vessel could have sunk a nearby fixed oil rig.
o A few years ago, an essential on-board system on a very large vessel became inoperable in harsh sea. C ontrol did not return until the software system was reprogrammed. Until being reprogrammed, the vessel owner was exposed to very high risk for complete loss of a very expensive (billions of NOKs) ship, including its passengers and damage to the environmen t.
o The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) reports annually incidents related to Dynamic Positioning Vessels (DP). Report IMCA M 173 reports of 29 incidents with loss of position, a very serious incident: 'Computer' is a primary cause o f failures.
Furthermore, software is not only present in the critical systems that are needed to steer and propel a vessel: Software is found in navigation, communication, ventilation, media, cooling, passenger suite, radar, and even door lock systems.
The SMICT project is a foundation project for setting the standard for software used in maritime installations.