Future of ships



No I don’t think the sky will fall in 2020, but something else will; TRUMPISM!!
(If not before, that is)

Back to the subject at hand, future of ships; Maybe gas and steam turbines will still be around for a while, at least until cheap Hydrogen and Fuel Cells of sufficient capacity becomes available:


Maybe not…



Then may God help us
Or could he manage to turn the US into a dictatorship and become “President for Life”?
If so, may God help the earth. (x2).


The latest Nor-Shipping report on Splash 24/7: http://splash247.com/last-d-word-shipping-2017/


From gcaptain newsletter today: http://gcaptain.com/trump-withdrawing-u-s-paris-agreement-puts-pressure-imo-ngos-says/

The requirement to reduce CO2, SOX, NOX and particle emission from ships are bound to affect the development of future ships, regardless of whether they are manned or unmanned.
Even if restrictions will be eased, or even lifted for US domestic trade and ECA, it will have little if any affect as such restrictions will remain in the rest of the world.

I presume that is a typo, not an indication that US will take even more control of the UN, although I’m sure Mr. Trump and a few Americans would like to. (Even eliminate this meddlesome institution)


As a retired engineer I understand your sorrows and I share your feelings. In my 46 years on ships and with ships I encountered two main periods. The first 24 years from 1966 till 1990 were the best for learning, they were adventurous because the world was open to us and they were marked by hope and comradeship. The final 22 years to retirement were full of hard labour, scarcely shoreleaves , single cabins with closed doors, mixed crews, frequent controls by whichever authorities, unexpected and unannounced work orders in ports by managing owners etc. - But better salaries and the financial base for the last years of life. In all those years we were learning and qualifying us to higher standards which gave us the feeling to be needed and to be an important part of the clockwork. What now happens and some of us comment as unavoidable future is scary but not unavoidable because it is in our hands. I fully agree with Mr. Elon Musk when he comments on AI and I admit looking into the lenses of such a robot and not knowing if he is considering to remove me or degrade me to hell without even loosing an oildrop out of his artificial nostrils is giving me the creeps. This is the road to perdition. We can and will do a lot in automation to relieve us from hard labour and make our life comfortable but to leave our life to the will or decision of robots is the wrong way. I will not encourage my grandkids doing the way I did. But I will encourage them to keep their eyes wide open and find the pearls which are definitely lying between the heaps of automation.


I was born way to late. I am envious of the career you describe and I strive to be able to have a long career like that. Thank you for the response.


Rolls-Royce Marine showed off their latest simulator at Nor-Shipping, incl. some of the technology that will feature in the remote controlled and autonomous ships of the future: http://www.smp.no/naeringsliv/2017/06/02/Framtidas-skipsbru-vekte-oppsikt-på-Nor-Shipping-14820623.ece?cx_front_click=baseline_test&cx_front_click_place=8&cx_front_click_articles=6

Battery powered Car Ferries that will cross the fjords automatically and dock themselves, will start to appear in Norway in a years time. They will be equipped with pneumatic mooring system and automatic connection of power for recharging their batteries during the short time while at the docks at each end of their runs, (+/- 10 min.)

But there will still be a person on the bridge at all times for the time being, able to take manual control as and when he deems it necessary. There will also be a deck crew to direct cars and check that payments are made.
On longer routes, (>15 min.) somebody will also attend the kiosk, selling snacks, coffee and make svele. Those may be replaced by vending machines on shorter runs. (No svele)

Whether there will be any engine room staff in the traditional sense is anybodies guess. If anything, there will probably be somebody akin to an Electrician, but with extra training as required for the systems deployed on board.

Because they carry passengers, the number of trained crew will have to be sufficient to fight a fire and direct evacuation, however.


Uh-oh. The Level 2 trap (robot primary, human backup) again. Recipe for complacency, especially when combined with fatigue. What shifts will the backup person be working?




I am happy that there still are men and women in our trade with open hearts, dedication and desire to make our world a better place. With clean water, clean air and satisfied lifes based on adequate salaries. Unfortunately this is an illusion as long as we strive to let AI and automation take overriding authority. The problem will be a vast amount of educated and intelligent people , well connected over social networks but jobless. This will lead to structures we won’t even think about.
Until today I find our technical developments colourful and fascinating despite already seeing the disturbing side effects.
With higher safety margins and vast data collections we are prone to take higher risks. See Deepwater Horizon.
If you dedicate your career to a future where automation and AI are tools for everybody and cannot be used as weapons by some nerds then your grandkids will look back in pride and admiration.


Not everybody is happy with the development of remote control, even at today’s level: http://insurancemarinenews.com/insurance-marine-news/remote-monitoring-not-always-popular-with-crew-says-marorka/

We who are already “too old for this shit” can be happy we only have to watch the development from the rocking chair.

For those who are young and just starting out,I believe it is important to stay ahead of the game and ensure you are up to speed on the technology to remain relevant in the bright new world.

I believe that the more automated the process become the less danger there will be from fatigued operators making mistakes. I would have thought that boredom would be more of a problem when you sit and watch a ferry sailing itself back and forward, back and forward all day and most of the night.

in Norway the regulated working hours are; 7.5 hrs./day, 5 days/week = 37.5 hrs./week.
But with compulsory 5 weeks holidays/year, public holidays etc, the average work week becomes only 33 hrs.: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2013/07/10/worlds-shortest-work-weeks/3.html

As to the future ferries they will probably work the same schedules as now, i.e. the time on board and time off regulates the total hours over the year to equal that of a worker on shore.
In the offshore industry, with 12/12 shift this is done by “2 weeks on/4 weeks off” rotation.
I’m not sure if there are such a set system for ferries, as they operate in different pattern in different parts of the country, but this being Norway, it is probably well organized to where nobody work too much.

Here is an article in Norwegian about life on board a typical ferry in traffic on the Norwegian fjords: https://www.tk.no/aure/kristiansund/samferdsel/fra-lem-til-lem-med-minst-mulig-ubehag/s/5-51-17125
Hopefully Google Translate handle this gently, for those who have the time and inclination to read it.

PS> Norwegians are more preoccupied with short work hours and long leisure time for a better quality of life then they are with pay. Since everybody is generally well paid and taken care of “from cradle to grave”, there is less to worry about. (I’m still struggling to come to terms with this attitude, having lived in Singapore, where long working hours is a “batch of honour”)


Well, according to that article they aren’t watching it for a large percentage of the time, they are running it. Which means they not only maintain alertness but also proficiency. Loss of proficiency amongst aircrews flying semiautomated aircraft is already a concern for the FAA – see, e.g. the San Francisco landing accident. It’s not clear that time on a simulator will completely make up for real-life experience. And I imagine there are times when docking a ferry can get interesting.

Remember why Ford Motor Co. dropped their Level 2 autonomous vehicle project and moved straight to Levels 3 and 4: they observed that the many test engineers behind the wheel of a Level 2 car nodded off shortly after the robot took over. Other studies show that it takes 15 to 26 seconds for a driver to regain situational awareness after the robot hands control over. It is simply very, very difficult for humans to make the transition from hands off to hands on when they spend the bulk of the time hands off as opposed to the other way around.




The ferry in the article is relatively old (Built 1979) and NOT automated to any large degree. (Maybe a auto-heel system to keep her on even keel during roll-on and roll-off) All maneuvering is manual and the crew is 5 person. (Master, Mate, Ch.Eng & 2xABs)

Here is a video from M/F Stordal published by one of the ABs and taken during a relatively quiet period: http://www.arcshipping.com/fleet/

A more modern LNG powered ferry with a bit more automation, but still not level 2 autonomous.
This video was published by one of her Masters who used to be on luxury Cruise ships on worldwide tours, but now run across the Trondheimsfjord. (He likes speed, to this video is speeded up to): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0joOQR8z-U

Automation of docking will come with the next generation of battery powered ferries, but down-manning of the bridge will only happen slowly ,


Before we get to autonomous ships in international trade in a decade or two there are a lot of development ongoing.

Although shipping is not covered in the now famous Paris Accord it is a main concern within IMO.
Norway wants to do it’s part to ensure that emission targets are met by taking the lead within IMO on this aspect. (Since USA has abdicated from it’s leadership role): http://en.portnews.ru/news/240048/

Japanese shipbuilders and DNV-GL is also doing their part to develop ECO ships based on improvement of existing technologies, while we wait for hydrogen power to become available: http://en.portnews.ru/news/240048/

For short sea trade the battery technology is making strides: http://nor-shipping.com/press-release-future-fjords-revealed-ground-breaking-zero-emission-passenger-vessel/

An immigrant American of South African origin is a prominent supporter of the development of improved batteries as power for ships as well as vehicles and other application.


For anybody wanting to stay informed on the future of ships and shipping, the latest edition of Maritime CEO is recommended reading: https://issuu.com/sinoship/docs/maritime_ceo_issue_two_2017?e=4630401/49098300


Here is another development on the way to emission free short sea ships: http://sysla.no/maritim/med-denne-baten-vil-ulvan-rederi-spare-penger-pa-en-helt-ny-mate/
This little coaster will travel on 12 days round trips along the Norwegian coast for many years to come.
She will be manned, but probably very “lightly”, awaiting the day when a “box of tricks” can be installed to allow her to operate autonomously. When that will happen is anybodies guess.

PS> I assume that at least two ABs with Crane Operator and Forklift driver qualifications will be retained until last.


Before the first large Autonomous ship take to the ocean, at last across oceans, there may be Autonomous passenger planes flying between continents: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-boeing-airshow-autonomous-idUSKBN18Z12M

Why not? Planes have been able to take off and land themselves for years. The bit in between is the easy part. Don’t worry they will leave the cabin crew to take care of you.

How often do you see the Pilots anyway? How do you know there is anybody up there anyhow?
Those figures you see through the cockpit window on boarding may be blowup dolls for all you know and the reassuring voice on the tannoy may be a recording, pre-programmed to speak to you at intervals.

OK they will probably start with cargo planes first. Don’t Worry, Be Happy!!!


The contract for 5 battery powered ferries has been, not surprisingly, awarded to Havyard.
The ferries will be of their own design and prepared for autonomous operation sometime in the future, but will be manned as per present regulations initially: http://www.marinelog.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=26294:havyard-to-build-five-more-ferries-for-fjord1&Itemid=226

The ferries will be used on two of the busies fjord crossings in Sunnmore and are expected to start operation in 2019. Here is an article in Norwegian with more details: http://sysla.no/maritim/milliardkontrakt-pa-ferger-til-havyard/?utm_source=pushvarsel


Noted without comment.