In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Mr Knut Arild Hareide from the Norwegian Maritime Authority and Mr. Georgios Plevrakis from ABS introduce the Maritime Technologies Forum (MTF) and explain that it will focus on industry’s essential topics for the future, such as energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and autonomous ships.
n particular, MTF will guide the industry through its transition by applying collective technical and regulatory knowledge to help solve key challenges. Given that the challenges of decarbonization and digitalization are driving the need for new skill sets, MTF will also focus on operational management and training as key contributors to the safe implementation of new technologies.
SAFETY4SEA: Tell us a few words about the Maritime Technologies Forum. What are the top priorities in your agenda?
Knut Arild Hareide: The Maritime Technologies Forum (MTF) is a forum of flag states and classification societies. The flag state administrations include Maritime Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan; the Norwegian Maritime Authority; and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, United Kingdom. The classification society members are American Bureau of Shipping, DNV, Lloyd’s Register and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. It has been established to provide technical and regulatory expertise to benefit the maritime industry. The role of the forum is to work together on research which it publishes to the maritime industry and draw on regulatory expertise to offer unbiased advice to the shipping sector. MTF will focus on essential topics for the future of the maritime industry, including energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and autonomous ships.
SAFETY4SEA: What are industry’s key challenges from your perspective for the next 5-10 years?
Georgios Plevrakis: Decarbonization and all of the associated elements that come from that are certainly top of mind for the shipping industry. Currently, there are many different solutions being discussed, proposed and piloted. Over the next 5-10 years, we believe that the industry will begin to settle on the solutions and pathways that will allow for the associated infrastructure and value chains to be developed to support those solutions. MTF exists to help guide the industry through this transition by applying our collective technical and regulatory knowledge to help solve some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.
SAFETY4SEA: According to your recent report, what should be industry’s stakeholders key actions to accelerate industry’s transition towards a zero-emission future?
Knut Arild Hareide: Our recent report underscores the need to collaborate on training and conduct pilot projects for alternative fuels. The heatmaps produced in the report provide a critical snapshot on readiness and identifies the gaps where we need to refine our focus and increase our research efforts if we are to develop economic and technologically feasible fuel options. The areas identified in the heatmaps really represent starting points for industry stakeholders to research and invest to further accelerate industry’s decarbonization. Alternative fuels will require more robust value chains and the overall scaling of their technical deployment will require tests and pilots, so that we can move faster through the learning curve. Furthermore, the impact on the human element should never be underestimated as we shift from conventional to alternative and more hazardous fuels. New skills and competences will be required, and new training modules should be developed for safe operation.
SAFETY4SEA: How will new trends, new technologies and innovation influence our long-term ambitions and the way we achieve them towards a decarbonization?
Georgios Plevrakis: New technologies and innovation will be what shapes our long-term decarbonization ambitions which is the primary reason MTF was established, to help enable and foster the development and safe operation of sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies in the maritime sector. This is the reason why MTF is working on frameworks that can be utilized to assess the multitude of aspects that should be considered when exploring technical options relative to decarbonization. Our recently published fuels evaluation made use of this framework.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the future skills for the next generation of shipping? What should be industry’s top priorities towards considering maritime decarbonization?
Knut Arild Hareide: Decarbonization and digitalization are driving the need for new skill sets in the maritime industry. From increased automation to implementing and managing new and more hazardous fuels on board, the future maritime workforce will need a new set of skills which will require a blend of traditional engineering principles with digital capabilities and acumen. Our recent paper put emphasis on the necessity to develop new training modules that will equip professionals in the industry with the required skills that will help them excel in the paradigm shift from conventional powering and fueling to low carbon solutions.
SAFETY4SEA: Do you have any plans/ projects/ initiatives that you would like to share?
Georgios Plevrakis: We do plan to further expand the latest heatmap report to cover additional fuels such as hydrogen and additional biofuels. Given the background of our members and our intersection between regulatory and technical expertise, we will continue to focus our efforts to support safety and sustainable innovation in the maritime industry.
SAFETY4SEA: What is your key message to industry stakeholders and achieve a smooth green transition?
Knut Arild Hareide: Collaboration is key and will remain paramount for a smooth green transition. MTF is a testament to the importance of collaboration, bringing together classification societies as well as flag states working together to provide expertise and guidance for some of the industry’s most pressing regulatory and technical challenges.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.