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A new consortium to deploy blockchain technology to cover the certification of seafarers was unveiled today .

Participants include Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL), Maersk Line, tanker operator Heidmar, crew management firm PTC Holdings, seafarer welfare charity Mission to Seafarers and technology providers C-LOG, Navozyme and Hanseaticsoft.

The project has been funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which, with blockchain developer BLOC, founded Maritime Blockchain Labs.

It “aims to streamline and expedite processes that can be marred by a lack of verification for safety documentation, paper-based certificate management and a lack of access to validated safety and training certifications of seafarers”.

It will focus on an end-to-end demonstration of a digital certification and endorsement process utilising a digital repository for verified crew documentation, training logs and approval system.

“Specifically, the focus will be upon the STCW [International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers] certificate issuance and relevant supporting documentation from engineering officers located in multiple jurisdictions and the endorsement of recognition from a maritime authority for vessel embarkation and disembarkation,” the consortium said.

The project’s participants hope this will ultimately “enable individual seafarers to manage their certificate repository from original issuance, for maritime administrations to manage the renewal and endorsement across jurisdictions, for crew management organizations to manage seafarers for crewing of vessels and for vessel owners to receive an overview of their crew, certificates and endorsements”.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Gary Pogson said: “In such an international and distributed industry, it can be challenging to achieve robust mechanisms for providing a single, accurate record of crew education, training and experience and this has the potential to impact on safety.

“A way to address this is to bring together the multiple parties involved in the processes and build a system that works for them, establishing trust throughout the network,” he added.

Graeme Thomson, head of Northern Europe manning office at Maersk, said: “Blockchain has the potential to significantly improve the transparency, authenticity and ease of working with crew certification; both for the shipowner/operator and most importantly for the crew themselves. Building and maintaining an intuitive and user-friendly platform for the management of crew certification will bring hugely significant benefits to all stakeholders.”

Deanna MacDonald, BLOC chief executive, explained why such a large number of project participants was needed.

“Blockchain is essentially a collaborative technology, and so we need to build with industry rather than adopting a top-down approach, and therefore an essential ingredient to this project is to start by building a consortium that represents everyone in the value chain, from vessel owners to the seafarers themselves.

“The properties of blockchain make it uniquely positioned to deliver on these value propositions. Taken together, the distributed digital ledger, tamperproof timestamping (and hashing) of information and documentation, and the peer-to-peer verification network enable a globally available and locally accessible respiratory of verified and validated documentation,” she said.

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