October 7, 2015


Technology, trends and testbeds – the news in September

It was a busy September for shipping with the second London International Shipping Week dominating proceedings in an already busy event season. Central to LISW was talk of technology – though as our blog noted – the human factor is finally gaining proper attention as the critical enabler of this techno-future.

Can IMO get future-ready?

The concept of a network of maritime technology co-operation centres which would seek to encourage the spread of global know-how was discussed during the two-day Future-Ready Shipping 2015 Conference in Singapore.  Co-organised by the IMO the event discussed the feasibility of a private-public sector network that could act as a framework to build capacity and encourage technology transfer.  The IMO has come under trenchant criticism in recent years for developing regulation – the revision of Annex VI and the Ballast Water Management Convention – without having the technology in place for compliance.

Another idea discussed at the event considered the possibility of using domestic shipping in developing countries to demonstrate new technologies and so gain experience, acting as a ‘pull factor’ for technology transfer.  The conference heard that the knowledge gap and readiness of maritime companies to effectively deploy new technologies could be addressed through the use of testing facilities, such as the Maritime Energy Test Bed at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.  Beyond the hardware aspect, the conference also noted that seafarers should have a greater voice in initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of ships.

LR asks what’s next

The latest update to the Southampton Solent University/LR/QinetiQ Global Marine Technology Trends series was unveiled during London International Shipping Week. GMTT 2030 assessed 56 technologies and focused on 18 specific subject areas, aiming to provide insight into the impact and the timescales of new maritime technology.  Class Society LR acted as lead partner on the commercial shipping element of the report and focused on eight technologies that will transform commercial shipping.  The report predicts that in addition to being a connected and a digital one, the maritime world of 2030 will bring closer integration between people, software and hardware in a way that could transform day to day operations.

The report identifies two groups of technology drivers – those that will transform the ship design and build space – leading to advances in shipbuilding, propulsion and powering and the development of smart ships. The second group are the technologies that drive safety, commercial and operational performance – advanced materials, big data analytics, communications, sensors and robotics.  The report introduced a number of ‘Technomax’ vessel scenarios which give an indication of the potential maximum technology uptake relevant to four ship market sectors.  Tom Boardley, LR’s Marine Director commented: “Shipping is likely to evolve quickly now. That evolution is likely to be uneven but while 2030 is not far away, we think that shipping is likely to have changed significantly.”

Carbon War Room looks for testbeds

Clean energy lobby group the Carbon War Room (CWR) has issued a request for proposals to shipowners and charterers for a grant that could help finance a vessel retrofit with a bundle of efficiency technologies.  CWR will grant up to $200,000 to fund the installation of continuous monitoring equipment and will commission independent, third-party analysis of the collected data, which will verify the results and provide a ‘proof of concept’. The CWR claims the retrofit technologies will deliver minimum fuel savings of 10–15%.  A CWR analysis of over 100 existing vessels has shown that they can achieve efficiency gains of at least 10–15% by retrofitting with a bundle of proven energy efficiency technologies including advanced hull coatings, ducts, fins, and more efficient propellers.  The grant will cover a portion of the total retrofit cost, with at least 50% of the remaining technology costs to be financed by a third party. The project is funded by a grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, which recently awarded €1m mill to Rocky Mountain Institute and CWR to expand their efforts in the shipping industry.

Record transfer means safety says IUMI

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has called on vessel owners and technical managers to make sure that records on the condition of the ship and its machinery are made available when the ship changes hands.  The standard practice of removing these records has the potential to impact on the new owner’s ability to operate the vessel effectively on takeover according to Helle Hammer, Chairman of IUMI’s political forum.  “Without continuity of information, it could be some months before the new crew and management are fully familiar with the vessel and machinery plant. During this time, there is an increased risk of machinery breakdown leading to inability or impairment to navigate, fire and explosion, or personal injury from component failure. This, of course, affects the risk profile of the vessel,” he said.
A position paper, released by IUMI cites a number of reported incidents where it believes that insurers are being exposed to claims that could be avoided if adequate maintenance records had been provided.
It said that a significant improvement to the vessel’s risk profile would be achieved by requiring the maintenance records, operating reports, and spares inventory to be part of the permanent service history of the ship and covered by the regulatory regime, possibly through additional clauses in the sale and purchase agreement.

Inmarsat joins AAWA project

Fresh from the successful launch of its third GX satellite, communications provider Inmarsat has joined the €6.6 million Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications initiative launched by Rolls-Royce.
The project aims to produce the specification and preliminary designs for a range of unmanned vessels. Funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, the project will connect industry partners with universities, research institutes, shipowners and other stakeholders to explore the economic, social, legal, regulatory and technological factors which need to be considered.  Inmarsat’s role in the project will be to provide the satellite communications link and platform, one of the basic fundamentals in establishing remote control capability. Later this year Inmarsat will officially roll out the first phase of its GX service which will provide superior bandwidth to ships at sea on a global basis.

Chaplains get ‘Appy

Sailors’ Society, one of the largest seafarer support charities operating worldwide, has announced the ChAPPlaincy Smartphone app which will enable its port chaplains and ship visitors to deliver more effective care to the world’s 1.5m seafarers.  Developed with the support of Augustea Group, Chapplaincy enables real-time activity reporting and maintains a history of ship visits and support provided to seafarers. Data can then be accessed by chaplains in other ports and subject to confidentiality and data protection policies, can be used to provide ongoing care and assistance as ship and crew continue their voyage.
The app is the first of its kind and is made possible by access to global ship tracking data from MarineTraffic, which helps chaplains see which vessels are in port and those due to arrive. The result is more effective use of time and improved co-ordination with other welfare organisations.  In a second development phase, the charity is working to make it available to other welfare agencies to provide an even better level of support and care to seafarers. In addition, it is developing a version for seafarers, enabling them to make contact in advance of arrival at port in order to access welfare services.

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