The event, organized by SAFETY4SEA, was sponsored by UMAR-WSR (lead sponsor) and Alfa Laval, American Club, American Hellenic Hull, Arcadia Ship Management, Argo Navis, Bureau Veritas, Capital Ship Management, Columbia Shipmanagement, Consolidated Marine Management, Diaplous Marine Services, Dorian LPG , Dromon Bureau of Shipping, Epsco-Ra , Flowwater Technologies, MINERVA Marine, Orpheus Marine Transport Corp, RISK4SEA, Safebridge, SKILL4SEA, SQE ACADEMY, SQE MARINE, Tototheo Group, World-Link Communications. Furthermore, the event was supported by AMMITEC, CYMEPA, CYNAMEA, Cyprus Marine Club, CYMA, CUS, ICS Cyprus Branch, ISES, Marinem, The Nautical Institute Cyprus Branch, WISTA Cyprus, and YoungShip.

The pro bono event brought together global experts who focused on the recent and future challenges toward safe, smart and green shipping excellence and sustainable shipping. Presentations were given in four panels in which the experts shared their views on compliance with the forthcoming regulations, providing feedback on MEPC 72 outcome, which took place in early April. The paths towards decarbonisation, fuel options for compliance towards 2020 and BWMC implementation issues were among the critical issues that were discussed.

The event also tackled with the prominent topic of safety culture. Namely, the last panel of the conference addressed key challenges for future crew training and soft skills required, considering that maritime industry transform will inevitably reshape the way crewing and training processes work. Given that the introduction of autonomous ships, often described as the next step for the maritime industry, has already been launched to make the smart ship concept a reality, the event also provided a comprehensive review of current trends and outlook with respect to human element.

Panel # 1 – Introductory Panel

Mr. Costas Iacovou, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, Cyprus, discussed about the key shipping challenges with regards to maritime safety and environmental protection, considering the existing and future regulatory framework. Also, he explained why Cyprus is one of the top global hubs for ship owning and shipmanagement services.  Namely, Cyprus has a flexible Tonnage Tax system in the EU, combined with an excellent infrastructure and an extremely competitive tax system with the lowest corporate tax rate in the EU.

Mr. George Tsavliris, Chairman, CYMEPA reminded of  the critical issues raised during MEPC72, including the reduction of GHG from ships, implementation of sulphur 2020 and measures to reduce risk of use and carriage of HFO in Arctic. Mr. Tsavliris referred to the chaos with the Paris Agreement concerning shipping, noting that the European Union has different perspectives on how the industry should implement measures to cut shipping emissions, therefore, he advised, synergy within the sector is needed. Moreover, he provided a recap of oil and gas recent developments and highlighted that over regulation need to be further reviewed with regards to MARPOL Annex VI.

Panel # 2 – 2020 Fuel Options

Mr. Apostolos Belokas, Managing Editor, SAFETY4SEA presented the findings of the ‘2020 SAFETY4SEA Fuel Options Survey’ highlighting that the majority of responders believe a postponement of 2020 sulphur cap deadline is possible, similar to BWM Convention. The survey revealed that momentum is extremely difficult; all options will work in the market and other options such as LPG and batteries may arise initially in small segments. Mr. Belokas concluded that many seem to prefer a ‘wait and see’ approach with respect to Sulphur cap compliance and certainly market will be distorted. Strongest "players" may increase market share, weakest may disappear while there may be a rise in penalties.

Mr. Kyriacos Gregoriou, Marine Surveyor, DMS Cyprus, highlighted hot debated issues concerning the 2020 Global 0.5% sulphur cap challenge. He began his presentation with an overview of the SOx regulations examining later what the global limit actually means for ships and how these can meet low Sulphur emissions standards. Thus, he talked about fuel oil availability and what controls are needed when the new global cap takes effect. Given the many alternatives for compliance, Mr. Gregoriou advised delegated that a life cycle cost analysis taking into the ‘equation’ of all the ‘influential paramenters’ is needed, in order to define the best solution applicable to each particular ship.

Dr. John Kokarakis, Vice President Technology & Business Development Hellenic, Black Sea Region & Middle East, Bureau Veritas, provided a comprehensive insight into the 2020 global Sulphur cap, highlighting that compliant fuel needs energy to be produced. Therefore, he noted alternative and compliant fuels are likely to be utilized in smaller vessels. High fuel consumption favors the scrubber option for the larger ships. Dr. Kokarakis said that freight rates are expected to increase. For the smaller vessels, the resurrection of slow steaming is anticipated while scrubber equipped vessels will run faster. It seems that post-2020 we will face a multi-fuel future, with low-sulphur blended bunker fuels to be the ‘future king’ of the marine fuel market, he added.

Mr. Marcel vanHaaren, Sales Engineer Exhaust Gas Cleaning, Alfa Laval, argued on how to be one step ahead once the regulations become effective in less than two years. After providing briefly an overview of the available options for compliance, he concluded that installing a scrubber offers more flexibility as it allows the continued use of HFO. Although, low sulphur fuel seems to be the most popular compliance strategy in 2020, the key questions regarding its availability, quality and price continue to challenge operators and provided a forecast of the scrubber market up to 2025, when approximately 5,000 vessels are expected to be retrofitted with scrubbers.

Panel # 3 –  Ballast Water Management

Mrs. Kristina Effler, Business development & Marketing Manager PureBallast Alfa Laval, talked about the route to IMO G8 revised guidelines (2016) and USCG type approval. Providing a recap of how the new robust 2016 G8 testing guidelines were adopted, she cited what are the new conditions and informed about the IMO revised G8 Certificate, which gives vessel owners peace of mind in planning future-proof fleet retrofit installations. A key point of her presentation was also the USCG zero hold-time. Some vessel owners have expressed concern over the 72h holding time required to make the USCG CMFDA method work. Alfa Laval completed testing without holding time in Q3 2017.

Mr. Mark Hadfield, CEO, Flow Water Technologies, addressed the subject of ballast water treatment which is one of those subjects that whenever it is brought up, ship operators tend to avoid, he commented. This is due to the enormous space required for the installation of a BWMS and the many regulations concerning its application. Therefore, Mr Hadfield advised those responsible for the installation and purchase of a BWMS, to make sure you they first make a research of every manufacturer, including those that are approved and those that are in the process, as no one has a system that works best on every vessel.

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Mr. Andreas Zontanos, Partner, Argo Navis, discussed the highlights of a BWTS retrofit which directly and indirectly affect the cost of the project. He stressed that the quality of a BWTS project is related to its cost: neither a low nor a high final bill but the successful commissioning and certification of a BWTS, finished at the pre-estimated date and at the pre-estimated cost make a quality project. As such, he cited what are key steps for operators in order to reduce costs without affecting the quality, as well as what they should not do to reduce retrofit costs.

Panel # 4 – Human Element

Sotiris Kambanellas, President, YoungShip Cyprus / Business Development Manager, Fleet Management, presented key issues with regards to crewing in the 21st century, considering how new technologies are impacting the global shipping industry.  In a constantly evolving world, even a more “traditional” industry like shipping is already changing and developing to adapt to new transformational technologies which bring many internal and external developments in the industry. Concluding his presentation, he referred to the future trends of crewing, presenting the results of a recent crewing connectivity survey and shared his advice on how to move forward.

Dr. Luiza Shahbazyan, Product Manager CAT, SAFEBRIDGE,  discussed about the future crewing requirements and solutions for the maritime industry and  explained why soft skills are increasingly important onboard than ever before. Living in the smart shipping era, Dr. Shahbazyan noted that it is likely to see a change in the working environment, requiring from seafarers a different kind of skills which could be able to augment artificial intelligence, and focusing more on non-technical skills, known as 'soft skills'. The technical skills of the crews have turned into a critical factor, as the better equipped ship and more technically knowledgeable crew meant a faster and a safer journey.

At the dawn of the smart shipping revolution, Mrs. Christiana Moustaki, Senior Crew Manager, Fleet Management, insisted on putting people first. She said that today, the global supply of officers is forecasted to increase steadily, but this is predicted to be outplaced by increasing demand. As such, unless training levels are increased significantly, the growth in demand for seafarers could generate a serious shortage in the supply of officers. However,  and as digitalization is coming fast, great opportunities but also with very real threats are anticipated with regards to human element. Thus, the price and many more questions of a practical nature, will have to be answered before ship owners can determine whether an autonomous ship is actually commercially viable, she concluded.

Concluding the last panel of the conference, Mr .Dimitrios Maniatis, Chief Commercial Officer, Diaplous Maritime Services, focused on how maritime security affects the human element and referred briefly  at incidents and recent developments in a number of areas including Nigeria, other WAF countries, the HRA and South East Asia. He concluded his presentation noting that risk is apparent as long as there are still pirates, terrorists and any other kind of threat looking for the right time and opportunity. However, he said, there is always way to mitigate risk and avoid losses. For that, industry is vital to keep focusing on the human element which is a complex multi-dimensional issue. Namely, all need to co-operate to address human element issues effectively.

All sessions ended with a round table discussion in which the audience exchanged ideas with high level experts of international repute on technological developments. Finally, Apostolos Belokas as the Forum Chairman thanked the delegates for their participation, the sponsors for their support and the speakers for their excellent presentations and also the organizing team of the event for their contribution towards forum objectives. Explore more about the event at https://events.safety4sea.com/safety4sea-cyprus-conference/