Future of ships


#142

when you look at the the very basic accidents around Singapore, clearly there is nobody aboard already


#143

[QUOTE=powerabout;190771]when you look at the the very basic accidents around Singapore, clearly there is nobody aboard already[/QUOTE]

Maybe those accidents happened BECAUSE there were people on board? If computers were making decisions on both vessels involved, could it be that there would not be any mistakes made??

What if VTS Operators had the possibility to take control of the vessel(s) in stead of just warning them of the danger and advise, then watch helplessly as the wrong action is taken?

Could such man made accidents as those continuously happening off Singapore be avoided if the human factor was removed?


#144

After COSCO Busan there was a push to give the VTS air traffic controller like authority over ships in their respective systems. The USCG wanted nothing to do with it, and for good reason.


#145

[QUOTE=lm1883;190797]After COSCO Busan there was a push to give the VTS air traffic controller like authority over ships in their respective systems. The USCG wanted nothing to do with it, and for good reason.[/QUOTE]

There is a lot of variance in the approach used by VTS world-wide, when there are pilots on board they tend to be more laissez-faire of course.

Singapore is fairly aggressive in giving advice now if they see a ship getting close to the edge of the lanes or getting too close to another ship, especially a tanker.

Singapore MPA put out a notice a year or so ago that they intended to use pilots shoreside and communicate to the ships via VHF, I assume just advice at this point but the notice was not clear on the specifics.

Sometimes in U.S. and other ports the pilot boat will give a course to make a lee as it’s sometimes hard to tell from the bridge with sea and swell in different directions,

In some ports it taken a step or two further, under the table so to speak. If it’s too rough for the pilot to get on the pilot will ask the ship to come up the channel or even inside the breakwater in some ports to pick up a pilot. They’ll have you goose it to get in then slow down once inside to pick up the pilot, also they may advise you if you need a little more or less leeway etc.


#146

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;190802]There is a lot of variance in the approach used by VTS world-wide, when there are pilots on board they tend to be more laissez-faire of course.

Singapore is fairly aggressive in giving advice now if they see a ship getting close to the edge of the lanes or getting too close to another ship, especially a tanker.

Singapore MPA put out a notice a year or so ago that they intended to use pilots shoreside and communicate to the ships via VHF, I assume just advice at this point but the notice was not clear on the specifics.

Sometimes in U.S. and other ports the pilot boat will give a course to make a lee as it’s sometimes hard to tell from the bridge with sea and swell in different directions,

In some ports it taken a step or two further, under the table so to speak. If it’s too rough for the pilot to get on the pilot will ask the ship to come up the channel or even inside the breakwater in some ports to pick up a pilot. They’ll have you goose it to get in then slow down once inside to pick up the pilot, also they may advise you if you need a little more or less leeway etc.[/QUOTE]

Most collisions (not all) happens when ships from the East bound lane are turning to cross the opposite lane to take pilot at Eastern or Western Anchorage, or when out bound ships have dropped the pilot and are crossing the West bound lane to get to the East bound lane. It is a heavily trafficked Strait and not everybody follow rules to the letter.

Would such accident decrease if ALL ships were autonomous? Yes probably, but a computer may have had problems “understanding” that the other (manned) vessel may not do thing entirely by the book. That is why there will be people ashore taking over if and when necessary.

Whether that will be locally from VTS, or by shore based Pilots taking charge of the autonomous vessels at some point on approach I don’t know.

There is time enough to figure that one out before you see one steaming into Singapore, or any US port for that matter.
What you can be sure of is that when it happens, MPA Singapore will be ready.


#147

Here in the states the key word is “ask” or probably the qualifier “if you feel it’s safe to do so”. Without those words liability may be assumed by the party not aboard in the event of an incident, which is precisely why the USCG does not give overriding authority to its VTS.


#148

[QUOTE=lm1883;190814]Here in the states the key word is “ask” or probably the qualifier “if you feel it’s safe to do so”. Without those words liability may be assumed by the party not aboard in the event of an incident, which is precisely why the USCG does not give overriding authority to its VTS.[/QUOTE]

If a vessel is manned the overriding authority ALWAYS belong to the Master, regardless of who try to give orders, Owners, Charterers, VTS, Pilots or Port Authorities. With that authority follows the legal responsibility.

Unfortunately, if a Master tries to enforce that authority in all situations he may find himself without a job. If he don’t he may find himself in front of a Judge, accused of negligence, or worse. (Nothing is easier than to blame the PIC, dead or alive)

One of the questions to be resolved before autonomous ships became a reality is; “Who is the Master?”


#149

One of the questions to be resolved before autonomous ships became a reality is; “Who is the Master?”

The person with the deepest pockets/biggest bank roll and the best lawyers/ lobbiest are the “Masters”! Everything else is an illusion!


#150

we all seem happy with ATC having absolute control over aircraft as it works in radar controlled areas and they are on their own reporting their position out side of that.
The answer might be to let VTS has control in the busy areas


#151

That’s why he makes the big bucks.

The push here in the states was to give the VTS control, like air traffic controllers, thus placing liability squarely in the VTS domain, something the USCG wanted no part of.

An autonomous ship will have to be directed from somewhere and they will assume the liability for that vessel. Determining who the master is will be a moot point. The question will be how to limit the financial exposure of the company to one vessel instead of the whole company.


#152

[QUOTE=lm1883;190833]That’s why he makes the big bucks.

The push here in the states was to give the VTS control, like air traffic controllers, thus placing liability squarely in the VTS domain, something the USCG wanted no part of.

An autonomous ship will have to be directed from somewhere and they will assume the liability for that vessel. Determining who the master is will be a moot point. The question will be how to limit the financial exposure of the company to one vessel instead of the whole company.[/QUOTE]

There are three kinds of liabilities in question, monetary, legal and moral to put it simple.
If an autonomous ship is in the control of a “Command Centre” (maybe a on the other side of the world), which have been contracted by the Ship Management company to keep control of the vessel throughout it’s voyage, the legal responsibility depends on the contractual obligation between those two, but the monetary responsibility may rest with the defacto Owner, who may be a BVI limited company owned by a thrust registered in Delaware, or Lichtenstein.

The “moral” responsibility may rest with the Vessel Operator at the CC, but can he be prosecuted , even if found grossly negligence, or even incompetent for the job?

Will there be any Certification of such Operators and how will that work?
Initially the Operators will likely be recruited from Masters and Officers with existing CoCs and sea time on ordinary ships, with additional training on the systems required for monitoring and controlling autonomous ships. After some years, there may be a shortage of such persons though.

When a autonomous ship approach a port, or a congested waterway, there may be a need for an operator to watch only one ship, not a whole fleet. This can be done by transferring control to a local VTS or Pilotage service, but will the authority operating that service accept legal responsibility as well?

In the case of Singapore, this may be complicated by territorial issues. Ships coming from the West may require special attention from just before One Fathom Bank, thought Malacca and Singapore Straits, until well clear of Horesburgh lighthouse. (Same in reverse for ships arriving from the East)
There are also ships coming from/ going to the South and passing through the Riau Archipelago.

Even if not calling at Singapore Port, it would make sense to have a VTS/CC in Singapore controlling traffic in all this area, but rivalry with Malaysia and Indonesia may make this difficult to obtain. Today VTS Singapore control traffic in Singapore Strait, incl. in Malaysian and Indonesian waters, but that is still not enough to avoid frequent collisions.

So, in short, it will be easy to find somebody to “morally” blame for any accident cause be human control errors, but the legal responsibility will be harder to pin down, especially if it is found that it was caused by a “software problem”, or inadequate programming for that specific voyage, or situation.

So it look like we will still need to have somebody called Master, but he/she need not be on board.


#153

There is only legal liability the rest is philosophy. As a maritime “insider” I thought you would have that figured out. In the event of collision or an incident involving marine pollution nobody cares who is “morally” responsible, they care who going to pay for its consequences. Those with “moral” sense of liability are going to find a way limit as much financial exposure as they can, this is the nature of all business.

If vessel control is placed in a central location and personnel are removed from said vessel, I would imagine that most legal liability will shift from the vessel to to the office, or at the least the company or party directing the movement of the vessels (which is how I see it playing out). It will be fun to see how that hashes out.

Will ports or pilot groups accept an autonomous vessel considering today’s legal and security climate? Maybe in Europe, but I bet a ship going to Newark won’t. Can an autonomous vessel make it up the Mississippi River from a control booth in Rotterdam or even Pilottown? I guess we will see. Who does survivor of the family or impacted business that suffers their negligence sue? Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming decades, because that’s how far away it is.


#154

Coming from the perspective of a black-ganger, I honestly can’t see a completely unmanned ship on anything but an extremely short run.

Filters will need to be changed and cleaned, as will centrifuges, turbo-chargers will still need to be water washed and nut blasted, injectors will have to be pulled.

Then there is the issues of refer-boxes, on how many trips has a compressor had to be changed? Or electronic issues be fixed? Will nay company be willing to lose possible million dollars worth of cargo because of a blown fuse on a refer box?

Then there are leaks, which are inevitable, who will fix them? Or will the bilges just fill full of water and oil? On that subject who will maintain the OWS?

Then there is the issue of cleaning the Main Space.

Granted some of this [B][I]could[/I][/B] be done by shore-side, but is it really cost effective to hire 100-200 workers to fly through an ER in 36 hours? (or even advisable)

Any competent black-ganger should know that small problems turn into large problems if they’re not addressed in a timely manner.

Then on deck, decks will not stop rusting because there’s no crew, even a fairly lazy deck gang can get a lot of chipping and painting done on a 30 day trip. Or again would it be cost effective to hire 50 painters to chip and paint a ship in a 36 hour port stay?

So I would say at least a black-gang would need to be aboard, so any saving from crew cost is gone, staterooms, stores, potable water, A/C and crew lighting will all be necessary.

Once you’ve added a 6-8 person black-gang, adding a steward’s department becomes cost effective (someones going to have to cook, wash dishes, clean the galley and common areas, and I doubt any King’s point or Mass-Maritine grad is going to do those chores)

Then who’s going to in charge? The C/E? Not entirely far-fetched, but is our industry really ready to say the Ship’s Master is extraneous to a ship’s operation?

And we raise Master’s from mates, (I doubt any 22 year old graduating from an academy would have the experience or maturity necessary to be a ship’s Master)

Once the ship has a Black-Gang, Steward’s department an a Master and mates, adding the 6-8 AB’s is a minor expense.


#155

All this talk reminds me of 1950’s Popular Mechanics articles demonstrating how we would all be buzzing around in flying cars by the year 2000. The charade gets revived every 15 years or so when an inventor jump starts it with a new “air car”, then the story fades away before the next big news cycle.
Aviation has had the technology to fly airliners between major airports for years. The system can take off, make the flight and land the plane in zero-zero visibility with more precise control than a human pilot can under the best circumstances but cannot taxi off the runway and go to a gate. The same problem will affect ships once they arrive outside a busy port.
The kind of discussion that’s happening here came up when pilotless cockpits became possible but all that talk has been set aside at least for the time being. The public won’t accept it.
Flying drones with specific missions in uncrowded airspace is one thing and the Navy already has small seagoing autonomous vessels but if I was a young academy puke I wouldn’t lose any sleep picturing empty ship bridges and ERs.
Besides, imagine a cruise ship without a handsome captain for all the ladies of a certain age to swoon over with bovine devotion.
I suppose Hollywood casting agents could supply the cruise ship companies with suitably handsome out of work actors but all you suitably handsome out of work actors out there: don’t hold your breath.


#156

[QUOTE=lm1883;190842]There is only legal liability the rest is philosophy. As a maritime “insider” I thought you would have that figured out. In the event of collision or an incident involving marine pollution nobody cares who is “morally” responsible, they care who going to pay for its consequences. Those with “moral” sense of liability are going to find a way limit as much financial exposure as they can, this is the nature of all business.

If vessel control is placed in a central location and personnel are removed from said vessel, I would imagine that most legal liability will shift from the vessel to to the office, or at the least the company or party directing the movement of the vessels (which is how I see it playing out). It will be fun to see how that hashes out.

Will ports or pilot groups accept an autonomous vessel considering today’s legal and security climate? Maybe in Europe, but I bet a ship going to Newark won’t. Can an autonomous vessel make it up the Mississippi River from a control booth in Rotterdam or even Pilottown? I guess we will see. Who does survivor of the family or impacted business that suffers their negligence sue? Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the coming decades, because that’s how far away it is.[/QUOTE]

That is where you are wrong, there are civil and criminal liabilities and then there is the one that gets blamed, usually the Mater, although he may not be liable under the Law. Maybe calling it “moral responsibility” was too simplistic, but that is how it is often seen by the general public.

You are looking at this through from a very American point of view. As said many times, this is NOT going to affect American shipping, port or seafarers for a long time to come. The area first to be affected is Scandinavia, where there are a less hard line nature of business. (I know, that is “anti-American”, but yet true)

As to who is to pay for pay for the consequences of pollution, the answer is; Same as today, the P&I Club.

Now to where we do agree; It is going to be VERY interesting to see how the legalities of autonomous ships are solved. It is NOT going to be easy, thus the first such vessels will likely be ferries in domestic trade, followed by Coasters that stay within Scandinavian water, then in Intra-European trade.

By the time the first such ship cross the Atlantic, this will be old hat, although I have no doubt it will cause all kinds of worries and protests by some parties when it does happen. (It’s some foreign gimmick, can it be SAFE???)
I don’t know if it will happen in the US in my lifetime, but I’m sure that it will in the lifetime of the younger members of this forum. (>20 years)


#157

DavidMT, you are assuming that the autonomous ships of the future are going to be just like the ships you are serving on now. They are not.
The people who are planning this are not ignorant of how machinery and equipment on ships function. In fact they actually consult those who are serving on existing ships to hear their grievances and tap into their experiences to ensure that lessons are learnt and solutions found. Once they are ready to send one of their autonomous ship to sea, they would have come up with ways to ensure that it is safe to do so.

If a fuse on a Reefer Container blows there will be a redundant system in place, if that is deemed necessary. Better still, make sure that the refrigeration systems used are 100% reliable. Besides, what do you put in a single container that is worth a million dollar?

To have crew on board to change filters, or plug leaks would defeat the purpose. 100% redundancy is the answer. Expensive to build, but cheap to operate. DP 3 vessel are already required to have 100% redundancy on all essential systems.

Who is going to be in charge has been discussed above, but it is NOT going to be anybody on board the vessel, since there will not be any. Nobody will be chipping rust, or maintaining the OWS, and no lock need to be placed on the O/B valve.

Get used to the thought that this will happen, but probably will not affect the present generation of seafarers too much. A few may move from sea to land to operate ships from the Control Centre, others will do maintenance while ships are in port, then go home.

Yet others will program the vessel computers for the next voyage, plan loading and discharging and ensure stability at all stages of the voyage. Ballast water exchange will not be necessary, as there will be Ballast Treatment Plants on board. (Hopefully USCG will get around to approve some by then)

Don’t fight it, it will happen anyhow. If you want to see the world, fly. It is cheap, fast and easy to get to anywhere.


#158

DavidMT @ 154 I was too late to warn you that you were about to engage in pissing up a rope but I see the wise one has already put all your technical concerns to rest. These ships come from another universe, from the future where all machines are “100 %” reliable, fuel tanks are clean as a Stanley thermos bottles or fossil fuels are no longer needed to power ships and there are no leaks…of anything…at anytime. The things engineers dream of after working so long without sleep they are halucinating.

Still I am no Luddite, but if engineering perfection is a requirement for autonomous ships on transoceanic voyages and if that is so far in the future why not wait a few more years and just use the transporter to bring the tickle-me-Elmos from China to your hometown?

Also I am not willing to stipulate that these people “are not ignorant of how machinery and equipment on ships function”. There is quite a bit of evidence contrary to that statement.

This is what it appears to be, a government propped up R&D project that will no doubt have some benefit somewhere down the line. Maybe they’ll be able to find the capacitor that won’t fail due to heat and take out a critical circuit on a PCB that controls the steering. Maybe the cost of triple or more redundancy will not matter to a ship operator in order to get rid of those pesky, food eatin’, solid waste producin’ humans.

Not all R&D is bad and it often needs a goal to organize it but that goal or assumption of the future is often not the reality that finally evolves. Despite even the best artist’s rendering. So DavidMT you enter into a technical conversation with this gentleman at your own risk.


#159

#160

Please don’t take this personally but you’re full of shit.


#161

[QUOTE=ombugge;190852]DavidMT, you are assuming that the autonomous ships of the future are going to be just like the ships you are serving on now. They are not.
The people who are planning this are not ignorant of how machinery and equipment on ships function. In fact they actually consult those who are serving on existing ships to hear their grievances and tap into their experiences to ensure that lessons are learnt and solutions found. Once they are ready to send one of their autonomous ship to sea, they would have come up with ways to ensure that it is safe to do so.

If a fuse on a Reefer Container blows there will be a redundant system in place, if that is deemed necessary. Better still, make sure that the refrigeration systems used are 100% reliable. Besides, what do you put in a single container that is worth a million dollar?

To have crew on board to change filters, or plug leaks would defeat the purpose. 100% redundancy is the answer. Expensive to build, but cheap to operate. DP 3 vessel are already required to have 100% redundancy on all essential systems.

Who is going to be in charge has been discussed above, but it is NOT going to be anybody on board the vessel, since there will not be any. Nobody will be chipping rust, or maintaining the OWS, and no lock need to be placed on the O/B valve.

Get used to the thought that this will happen, but probably will not affect the present generation of seafarers too much. A few may move from sea to land to operate ships from the Control Centre, others will do maintenance while ships are in port, then go home.

Yet others will program the vessel computers for the next voyage, plan loading and discharging and ensure stability at all stages of the voyage. Ballast water exchange will not be necessary, as there will be Ballast Treatment Plants on board. (Hopefully USCG will get around to approve some by then)

Don’t fight it, it will happen anyhow. If you want to see the world, fly. It is cheap, fast and easy to get to anywhere.[/QUOTE]

Please don’t take this personally but you’re bat shit crazy.