Sean PribylSean is a business attorney in Holland & Knight’s Washington DC office, where he focuses his practice on maritime regulatory compliance, international trade and autonomous transportation. He is a former merchant mariner, US Coast Guard attorney and Protection and Indemnity (P&I) club lawyer. Sean is a widely published author and a regular speaker at international conferences and seminars on topics related to maritime law and autonomy. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Marine Board, a senior advisor to the World Maritime University, and an Institute of International and Economic Law Fellow at Georgetown University.
The Evolving Approach to Maritime Autonomy in the United States: Recent U.S. Congressional Developments, Use Cases and Investment, and the State of U.S. Coast Guard Policy
The U.S. autonomous vessel market continued to develop over the past year. Recent U.S. Congressional interest in emerging maritime technologies supports a view of cautious optimism in the coming year, which may work to allow for increased investment by the commercial market to follow precedent being set by the U.S. government, commercial outer space sector, and offshore energy industry. Investment in the U.S. market continues to take shape as U.S. policy and Congressional authorizations are offering a glimpse of pathways to overcoming limitations under U.S. law related to minimum vessel manning requirements and compliance with navigation laws such as the COLREGs. Testing by academic institutions is also supporting collaboration and safe development of use cases, and government agencies are undertaking directed research into the future of commercial maritime autonomy with reports expected this year. Moreover, labor shortages and emerging opportunities for new decarbonization technologies may present useful justifications, including with remotely controlled operations. The U.S. Coast Guard remains the primary gateway through which industry seeks permission to operate without crew (or reduced crew) and with advance autonomous functionality, and this session will examine the state of Coast Guard law and policy, and what industry can expect in the coming year.