Blockchain for seafarer certification

Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL) has announced a pilot for a blockchain-based seafarer certification system.   

This week MBL, which was founded by BLOC and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, announced the establishment of a “consortium that will pilot a blockchain-based seafarer certification system.” 

BLOC (BlockChain Labs for Open Collaboration) is based in Denmark and describes itself as “a community of technological providers, leading industry players and large talent pools that have come together to co-create proof-of-concepts in the areas of smart regulations, emissions reporting, supply chain finance and smart contracts for the global maritime industry”. 

The other consortium members involved in the seafarer initiative are Maersk, the commercial tanker operator Heidmar, PTC Holdings Corp., (representing crew management and training associations), cloud-based fleet management and maritime platform companies Hanseaticsoft, Navozyme and C-LOG, and the seafarer welfare charity The Mission to Seafarers. 

The seafarer certification pilot “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. These factors can lead to significant issues for crew management agencies, ship operators, regulatory and port authorities for securing and insuring crew”. 

The pilot is the second of three demonstrator projects funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF). Its scope is “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 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 end goal is to use a blockchain to enable individual seafarers, maritime administrations and crew management organizations to manage the certificates, endorsements and processes around seafarer documentation. 

“Blockchain is essentially a collaborative technology”, said Deanna MacDonald, CEO of BLOC, “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.”