The test area is available for all parties desiring to perform tests regarding maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) of any level of autonomy. The following outlines the overall process from requesting access to the test area to the testing period and test wrap-up. Figure 1 below depicts the steps for utilising the test area.
The first step is to request a test period. A request is done via the DIMECC website. The application to use the test area can be submitted via email firstname.lastname@example.org. It should include information about the organization, country, ownership of the vessel(s) under test, contact information of the person responsible for the test and information about the types of tests that are planned. DIMECC will contact the ones making the request for additional information if needed.
The second step is to sign an agreement between the testing party and DIMECC. The agreement contains the principles and policies, that both parties need to adhere to, and facilitates resolving any ambiguity regarding the test area usage.
After the agreement has been signed by both parties, the third step is to cover the test area usage fee, which is a compensation for using the test area. The usage fee is used to finance the test area service.
The fourth step is pre-test reporting. Finnish authorities require the contact details of the people responsible for the tests. This information should be passed to DIMECC, who forwards the details to local authorities. The pre-test reporting includes also acquiring the needed permissions (when applicable) for entering and using the test area. The permissions are also delivered to DIMECC for verification. Delivery of this information must be to DIMECC at least one (1) month prior to the test period.
The fifth step is the actual test period when the test area is used for testing. During the tests, the test entity is expected to keep a log of the tests, which contains the descriptions, test execution dates and times. It should also include a description of handling any temporary constructs put into the sea for the duration of the tests, if any. The test log should be signed by the person(s) responsible.
The final step is to provide the test log to DIMECC for validation.
Principles and policies
Effective, safe and smooth operations of the Jaakonmeri test area necessitates adhering to a set of principles and policies. The general principles of the test area usage are outlined here.
- Test period length is flexible. The basic unit for reserving the test time is one week. Test period duration may vary from one (1) to six weeks (6). Each test period is followed by a no-test period of equal length during which no testing is allowed.
- The test area is reserved for one testing entity at a time. One testing entity may reserve the test area at a time.
- Test area is available for all surface vessels. Testing underwater vessels is not allowed.
- Test entity is liable for any immediate, indirect damages or harm which results from testing. Test entity may be obligated to pay deposit, which is returned after the tests are completed.
- Test area restoration. Testing entity is responsible in restoring the test area to its original condition, which means that the testing entity needs to collect all equipment put into the sea, anchors etc. It should be noted that the anchors used in the area must be such that hooking risk is as low as possible. If larger constructs are dropped into the sea floor during the tests, the testing entity may be obligated to cover for the cost of divers to ensure that the dropped constructs have been removed. No permanent constructs are allowed in the area.
- Testing log. The testing entity is required to keep a testing log during the tests, which is to be delivered to DIMECC at the end of test period. The test log shall include all test activities, all equipment put in the sea etc. and their exact locations.
- Reporting. Testing entity is required to report all parties involved in testing (and if requested, their ownerships and ties e.g. to defence industry) already when applying for the use of the test area. Test schedule, people responsible for operating the vessels and contact persons of the tests need to be reported one month prior to testing.
- Permissions, the testing entity is responsible for obtaining all required permits to perform the testing. If a government of a foreign country owns the vessel, a permission to enter Jaakonmeri is required from Finnish Defence Forces.
- Test area monitoring is the responsibility of the testing entity during the tests. If there is unplanned traffic or vessels not part of the tests in the area during the tests, the test should be paused until the area is clear. The police can be contacted for assistance in clearing the test area. In case of an accident, the test entity should contact local officials as well as DIMECC.
- Ensuring safety of water traffic. Testing entity needs to ensure that the vessels under tests do not cause danger to water traffic and that no external party can obtain the control of the vessel under test. Test entity also needs to ensure that the activities and operations in the test area do not cause disturbance or harm to people, environment, official traffic or the safe operations of the nearby nuclear plant.
- Suspending the tests. DIMECC retains the permission to terminate/suspend the tests due to justified reason. Authorities may also terminate the tests if needed. In such a case, the testing fee remains with DIMECC. Test entity is obligated to follow instructions and orders given by the police, coast guard and defence forces and other authorities and to stop or postpone the tests without delay if requested. Additional costs incurred by such requests do not incur liability for the costs to the party who has given the order.