Future of ships


About two weeks after passage of the American Campaign Reform Act, or Connecticut is threatened by glacial advance, whichever happens first.


The first cargo ship on a short run in Norway will be able to operate autonomously sometime in 2020 according to schedule (Lots of info in this thread earlier) A ferry in Finland maybe even earlier.

That will be followed by short sea shipping within EU waters in 5-10 years or so. (China may be earlier, but for coastal trade only)

When will you see the first large commercial vessel in autonomous operation across oceans?
in 10-20 years maybe. (Depending on how fast change in rules and regulations can be accomplished)

If you ask about when you will see it in USA, I’ll go with Steamer’s prediction. (Based on the present political climate and resistance to change in the maritime fraternity)


Alright thanks lad. I am just getting a bit uneasy considering I’m about to transfer over to an academy to get a degree in MT, and have been a bit spooked in relation to automation. I don’t want to have this as my lifelong career, just something I can do for 10-15 years, which by yours and all the estimations I see online, I could probably do.



Don’t worry there will be older vessels with crew on board for a loooong time to come.
That is one of the problems foreseen, a mix of autonomous and manned vessels sharing the same waters.

Even if the on board computers and/or remote operators do everything right, there will still be the human factor on the manned vessel. The problem may best be illustrated here:


I think the unmanned vessel will be run in one countries coastal waters first as its easy to make them legal.
The global trade will have years of legislation to sort out


Autonomous salvage vessels? The reality is that autonomy will only exist in certain sheltered waters, unless autonomy becomes so integrated that the whole world fleet switches over at once. By then all ships will be Chinese anyway.

Even today manned ships with the latest equipment are foundering, despite or because of ECDIS.


Have moved some pertinent posts over here:

on the topic of fuel cells specifically.

Suggest generic announcements and press releases could continue to be posted in this thread but only post technical links or content or discussion of same in the new thread.

Maritime Application of Fuel Cells

One view of Future of transportation, incl. by sea:


UK register first unmanned vessel:

Maritime Application of Fuel Cells


Interesting article.
Although the geographical knowledge of the author leave some to be desired:

Maybe he is trying to compete with Sarah Palin in long vision?


Digitalization is the future of ships and shipping and standardisation the way to go, says DNV-GL:


What does the insurers think of the development towards autonomous ships?:


It is not just a few enthusiasts and dreamers that is interested in the ongoing development of autonomous ships.
Here is a link to the Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS):


DNV-GL is heavily into standardization and digitalization of Shipping:


The optimum steaming distance to a rig is a day and a half from the shore base. The company man knows that if he keeps both boats out it will take him 3 days plus loading time to get it. Both boats get time alongside and all is well with the world.


This article in Splash 24/7 today should be music to the ears of many here:

It correspond to what I predicted in post # 642, although my prediction was the FIRST autonomous ship in ocean crossing operation in 10-20 years. It will take many years from there before such ships become the norm.


Things move pretty fast in the maritime industry when the powers that be want them to. I remember 10 years ago looking at the designs for ULCV’s and trying to wrap my head around them. Now 18k+ TEU container ships are everywhere and they’re scrapping 5 year old 10k TEU ships.

While I am in the corner of keeping the profession of seafaring sacrosanct for generations to come, the realist in me knows that the goal will be to replace people on ships as soon as possible. The only real variables in the shipping industry will always be crew costs and fuel. Knock out the crew and you’re down to one variable.


Another with negative thoughts about automation and reduced manning:


Slam the beancounters all we like but have they ever been beaten?

No one, no industry, is creating wealth any more, they are just swapping buckets of beans and the the game is to get as many of the other guy’s beans as possible by any means possible and ship’s crews are seen as a waste of beans.