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1998-06-08 18:56:25


Colliding Ships Possible, Says Government Agency



The possibility exists of colliding ships in 2000. This is the opinion of a British government agency, the Marine and Coastguard Agency.

This is from COMPUTERWEEKLY NEWS (June 4). [Resistration is required.]

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Passenger and cargo ships could be at risk of running aground or colliding because of year 2000 failures, a government agency warned last week. Safety-critical computer systems used to control navigation and propulsion systems could suffer from sudden catastrophic failures after the millennium, the Marine and Coastguard Agency told shipowners.

"If ships are sailing in congested areas or close to the coast and equipment fails at the wrong time, there is a risk of collision or a stranding," said Michael Hunter, engineer responsible for year 2000 at the agency. In a safety guidance note issued last week, the agency warned that global positioning navigation systems, propulsion systems, water-tight doors and fire detection systems are all at risk from the millennium bug. . . .

In the worst-case scenario, a ship relying on automatic pilot could suddenly change direction, putting it at risk of collision, said Hunter. The agency is urging shipping owners to plan for the year 2000 by investigating the compatibility of critical control systems and alerting staff to the potential dangers.

Estimates by marine insurers suggest there may be more than 50 embedded chips in a modern ship and that between 20% and 30% of these may not be millennium compliant. Lloyd's Register, which is responsible for the certification of shipping, said it is considering plans to endorse the certification of ships not meeting compliance standards.


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