Belgian autonomous vessels get access to UK and Danish maritime zones

Belgian autonomous vessels will now have easier access to British and Danish waters. Minister for the North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne has signed an agreement to this effect with both countries.

Belgium has made significant progress in the field of autonomous vessels. Last year, the unmanned Mahi 2 was the first in the world to sail across the Atlantic, powered entirely by solar energy. Several Belgian maritime companies are investing in this technology.

Belgium has had a legal framework for pilot projects with unmanned vessels in the North Sea since 1 July 2021. Cooperation with the UK and Denmark will make it easier for these vessels to cross the border with both countries. Instead of having to apply for two or three licences, it will now be possible to specify immediately the conditions that an autonomous vessel must meet in order to sail in UK or Danish waters.

"We are ensuring an appropriate regulatory framework so that Belgian companies can be at the forefront of this innovative technology"

Van Quickenborne said the agreement would encourage further development of autonomous vessels. "Technological developments and innovations at sea follow each other in rapid succession. We are ensuring an appropriate regulatory framework so that Belgian companies can be at the forefront of this innovative technology." He called on other North Sea countries to join the agreement.



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