Future of ships


autonomous large ship=diesel or
maybe LNG and turbines


Would they be barns or boxes - how much energy can be packed in a bay?

Thats the advantage of distributed storage. Energy barns are located close to the HT networks and store the excess as large scale stations ramp up & down, or excess from renewables.

That would be the future and that is what Nikola are working towards.

Also pumped storage is an option.



My money is on LNG and slow steaming multi-fuel recips.


are we assuming there will be eng crew on board?
My design is nobody on board so maybe modular powerpaks that can be swapped at port by the container crane, no cooling water, no warm up etc. Better power density
Which do you reckon could run the longest unattended, a turbine or piston engine?


Bladon Jets go 8,000 hours between service



They don’t even have a product out! Look at their “brochure”, it’s hilarious. Lots of bar charts and figures and the axis aren’t even labeled. But I’m sure they get plenty of funding. Capstone turbine already has this market saturated.


Fuel cells run on LNG initially, then Hydrogen when the technology advances is another option:

BTW; Whether the ships will be totally autonomous and without any crew is a different matter from what will be the marine fuel of the future. Most likely that development will also go in steps, maybe dependent on the type of fuel and machinery in use. (Less moving parts/ less chance of breakdowns. Less liquides/less chance of leaks)

Just out of curiosity:
I don’t think there is any statistics, but how much of an Engineer’s working hours are spent on maintenance and repairs of machinery, equipment and critical systems while under way/in operation? (Especially on modern DP-3 vessels, with 100% redundancy on most things)

Conversely; On today’s ships, how much time does Engineers spend on repairing and maintaining equipment that is there for crew wellbeing and safety? (Unstuffing clogged toilets etc.)


Pilots will take remote control of the vessel on approach/departure from ports.
Berthing/un-berthing may be by a Mooring/Dock Master via remote control. (Incl. of tugs, if any required)
Mooring will be by pneumatic or electro/magnetic means. (Automated systems already in use)

See my post #627 above

Ships doesn’t only sail to/from US ports.

The Engineers of the future may not be the same as the one you have sailed with in the passed.

The Electricians of the future will be (some already are) Electronic Technical Officers (ETO)
They may sit ashore and trouble shoot via secure internet feed. If it cannot be fixed, he remotely switch to the backup system. (It is already happening)

As I have said MANY TIMES here; Ships of the future will not look like the ships of today, nor will they have the same equipment, or operating procedures. Take away the equipment that is there to keep the crew comfortable and safe and more than half of the problems goes with it.


Here’s an exercise I used to recommend to my junior engineers back when the Futurists were riding high:

To evaluate one of these speculative brochures, first obtain a copy of the “Star Fleet Technical Manual.” Then replace terms in the brochure with terms from the Manual (dilithium crystals, etc.). If the two versions are equally plausible, well, then you know what to think.

Which reminds me: the Futurists were hot stuff in the 70’s and 80’s (Honeywell even had one). Which makes today their Future. I wonder where they all are :slight_smile:




Easymax is the newest ship design of the Dutch Wagenborg shipping company with low fuel consumption: 9 tons per day at 11 knots. The video is in English.


I can’t help thinking what a bulk carrier will cost if it is built to the same standard as DP3 vessel.


I think it will be difficult to attract engineers of the caliber required to an industry which operates 24/7 when they would get top money working 9 to 5.
Where the automated securing systems are used the vessel still runs mooring lines in case of power interruptions.
The late Peter Sellers could have done an excellent impression of a pilot having done a remote transit to the dock on a summer holiday weekend to Seattle, Los Angeles or Sydney and Melbourne.
In my experience that outside the offshore oil industry and cruise industry ship owners are building basic ships without sophisticated engineering.
But you made some good points to an old grey beard.


A lot more than a simple bulker of today, but if you remove the crew and all the systems required to keep them reasonably happy, fed and safe, a lot of cost could be removed.

If you also remove the requirements associated with burning HFO in an internal combustion engine for propulsion, a lot more equipment and potential problems could be done away with.

Nobody is advocating making a “box of tricks” to fit on the bridge and another in the ECR and make the ship sail autonomously across oceans.

I do NOT believe that we will see a mass produced Bulker like today, with traditionally machinery and equipment of today’s standard, sailing unmanned across oceans, or even in short sea/coastal service.


DP-2 Shuttle Tankers are already around and more are coming:

They are still manned though.


15 posts were split to a new topic: Maritime Application of Fuel Cells


Will there be any need for traditional Engineers on board when this technology comes into being full scale???
Probably not, unless they are re-schooled to serve in similar positions, but with new skills and knowledge.

The mooring arrangement will have fail safe mode w/accumulators to maintain pressure until backup power kicks in.
Here is a description of one such mooring system in use:

I’m sure it would have been hilarious, but reality will be a routine operation, conducted by a Pilot sitting comfortably in a Port Control Centre somewhere ashore.
Once the ship enters the berthing area a Mooring/Dock Master with a portable Remote Control unit will take over to bring the ship safely alongside, using both sensors and eyeballs to guide him.

They will continue to do so for many years, but some adventurous Owners/Operators will take up the challenge and order the first fully autonomous ship sometime in the not too far future. (In fact next year)
Some Governments with a forward looking attitude will sponsor the early development to make it less risky.

Just glad you enjoyed the raving and ranting of a fellow graybeard. Just because we are old doesn’t mean we cannot be interested in new technology and the future, which we may not be around to see.


This is an interesting editorial from Marex.


Cyber security for ships is a hot topic these days and will be more so as remote surveillance and control becoms more and more prevalent:


It looks like at least one American company is getting in on the act and thinking about the Future of Ships and Shipping:


When do you fellows reckon ships will be essentially autonomous and or in no need of AB/Mates anymore?